In Pittsburgh, Pa., there is an interesting phenomenon that that happens when the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers come together to form the Ohio River. It is called a “confluence.”
Federal IT is headed the same way.
Cloud services and the idea of common application programming interfaces (APIs) are coming together to make “Advanced Mobility” (smartphones and smartpads) potentially a breakthrough in the way the government works.
Since Federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s “Cloud-first” strategy was announced in the 25-point plan late last year, the debates have been raging on what can and should be transitioned. E-mail seems to be the low-hanging fruit. Meanwhile, large, legacy systems seem to be problematic to transition.
The Advanced Mobility movement will be the first technology born in the Cloud. It will not only be “cloud-first”, it may as well be “cloud-always.”
There were many “app stores” in the market before Apple released the iPhone. All the telecommunication carriers had these applications, as did handset manufacturers. It was very expensive for developers to develop to all these ever-changing platforms. The barrier to entry was great.
Apple’s genius? Using common APIs, which are very easy to design and feature a very small barrier to entry.
Data.gov also uses this common API scheme. It has 400,000 feeds that make it very easy to integrate a feed into another system, dashboard or smartphone.
Enterprise apps should work the same way. You can have a 40-year old financial system that needs to be tied into a 10-year old Project Management System. Using these Common APIs will help the 40-year old financial system tie into anything from another system to a smartpad.
Common APIs can help link systems in a matter of days rather than years. Just think of all the disparate systems out there that people use to do their jobs – whether in the military, law enforcement, health IT or acquisition. Maybe a simple, relatively inexpensive portal (residing in the cloud!) that aggregates the feeds of other systems is the enterprise architecture system that needs to be created.
Advanced Mobility would be a prime beneficiary of this movement. Apps that merge all the essential systems into one much simpler interface will put the information you need to do your job literally at your fingertips.
Cloud, Common API’s and Advanced Mobility are all remarkable innovations on their own, but their confluence can really change the way government works for the better.