Zero Fixed Cost (Development)

I love that the DISA leadership is aggressively trying new ideas like purchasing software as a managed service. This recent article in FCW highlights the recent momentum in the agency to look even further down the stack towards zero-fixed-cost platforms like Amazon’s EC2.

I attended the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco last month and I came back buzzing with ideas that revolve around the use of EC2. The idea of going from development to production with no upfront software or hardware cost, and then pay as you go from there is really compelling. Finally you can have a “dot.com” idea that doesn’t cost you significant investment until it is generating traffic (and if you do it right, revenue).

In keeping with this idea, the article points out that the agency was able to much more cheaply develop an examplar application by avoiding the upfront cost in time and dollars of establishing a program-specific development computing environment.

What it neglects to point out though is really important. Unfortunately, in the DoD you can’t roll your idea right into production like you would in the commercial space. Certification and Accreditation to run on military networks still looms and most likely that process will prevent your idea from ever running in a commercial organization’s data center (unless it has been suitably “federalized”).

DISA should use EC2 and similar commercial capabilities to reduce the friction (and cost) inherent in the development pipeline. What I really look forward to though is the day when downstream fielding and deployment is as friction-free as this development test.

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