Save Billions by Using the Cloud for Software Development?

The author takes issue with a recent survey that says the federal government could save billions in IT costs by moving to the cloud.

Save Billions by Using the Cloud for Software Development?

Survey says platform-as-a-service can save $20.5 billion in IT” 

Really?  Are you sure about that?  I have a problem with it.

Essentially, writing a computer program is a solitary occupation.  Yes, a group may consider and discuss, at length, what the client wants, but at the end of the day it is one person keying in a series of instructions and then repeatedly going through the test/debug cycle in order to find and fix errors.  She saves her work, of course, and resumes the next day, where she left off.

Here is my question: in the above setting, does it make any difference where she saves her work?  If she saves it on an off-site server (cloud) will this, somehow, be better than saving it on the hard disc of her PC at her office?  No, the cloud will not help her.

Computer programmers tend to be proprietary, if not jealous, of their output.  That is, once they have exerted many hours to get a program working the way it is supposed to work, they do not want others getting involved, making well-intended suggestions, or even – not this! – directly changing the code, without asking first.

More generally, most programmers have developed have their own library, of sorts, of short, time-saving routines they have written that can be used and re-used in a number of situations, with little or no modification.  Understandably, such routines are prized, and are not passed out to others as willingly as management would like.  Programs under development, stored on the cloud, are vulnerable to having these routines “appropriated” by others for unrelated purposes.

Considering the above, I believe the cloud has virtually -0- chances of saving billions of dollars in software development for the federal government.  It may even be possible that storage on the cloud could become a net loss.

The article does not explain why/how storage on the cloud vs. local storage is superior for application development, nor does it offer any objective evidence for the $20.5 billion savings figure. They do, however, cite the results of their survey of Federal executives, approving the unproven claims of the “study.”  Opinions are not facts.

My conjecture is the firm that did the self-serving “study” helps Federal agencies move to a cloud environment, for a fee.

About the Author

Robert Benson served 35 years in various Federal agencies, as both a management analyst and IT specialist. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.