Tuesday, 26 August 2008

ASP, cloud computing, SaaS

Some time earlier, I have discussed differences between open source and SaaS (Software as a Service). I argued that instead of investing heavily in tuning open source into an application for your organization, it would be better to explore the SaaS model. Why would you need to own software at all? You need to have it available.

Providers like Google and Amazon offer the concept of cloud computing. It has many advantages, namely scalability and performance. Furthermore, you pay per use, like in the SaaS model. The difference with SaaS however is that you own your application and that application needs to be developed on the platform offered by Google or Amazon. The main question here is: what is a possible exit strategy.

This same question is applicable to SaaS: what is my exit strategy. As you buy services offered by a software platform, the exit strategy would be to port those services to another provider with its particular platform. It might need adjustment of that new platform, because the particular provider offers services somehow different. Standardization of services should help portability.
Another part of the exit strategy in case of SaaS is the portability of data. You should be able to transport data from one provider to another. A good strategy would be to implement data services and port those services and the accompanying data to a new provider. Again, standardization of data services would help. However, do data services offer you sufficient performance?

When choosing a solution to your IT challenges, several models are possible. Each model has its challenges of its own. In the future, standardization of services would be the solution to choose the model you want. If you buy software or a service, in both cases the supplier must support the appropriate services. Who takes the next step in service standardization?

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Next steps for e-Government

Several countries have done a lot of work in the past years that result of useful applications for both citizens and companies. Multi-channeling has been adopted, the service oriented architecture explored and possibly web services are already operational.
Most of these efforts are on the technical level. It is still difficult to convince business people of local and national government agencies of the possibilities and the impact on their processes. Technical solutions are not yet translated into business perspectives, which makes it difficult to apply those solutions.

Such a middle out approach, trying to map business issues into existing technical solutions is always difficult. On the other hand, a top down approach seems very time consuming: specifying business issues and needs and supporting them by technical solutions. I am of the opinion that current technology and tooling is getting there. Lacking are integrated tools and techniques that support a top down approach. One is able to specify semantics of business needs and there supporting business processes, but transforming those specifications into technical solutions is still hard labor.

Although a government CIO and other responsible managers can possibly be convinced to standardize business semantics and processes, I think it is still difficult to close the loop. If anyone is aware of integrated tools, approaches, etc., please react.