Where’s the Beef?


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Back in the mid 1980’s, Wendy’s “where’s the beef” tagline became an American idiom. Today, almost thirty years later the U.S. Government is turning to cloud computing providers and asking the same question: where’s the beef?

Something remarkable happened the other day at RightNow. A government customer went live in the RightNow CX cloud. It was an actual government agency, with real constituent service responsibilities. Now, this is remarkable only in how completely ordinary it is. As many of you know, we’ve been providing our solution to hundreds of government clients in the cloud for more than 10 years. But the hype around cloud computing has also brought new players out of the woodwork. I’ve been seeing lots of talk, opinions, and even some announcements from a variety of cloud vendors. But I’m not seeing any real solutions – at least not solutions that meet the unique requirements of the Federal Government.

The reality is that the Federal Government can’t “officially” use Salesforce, Oracle On-Demand CRM, NetSuite, or the cornucopia of other cloud-based offerings because they don’t meet the strict security certification requirements. There are literally hundreds of unique requirements outlined in the NIST and DIACAP control sets. A few examples of their transgressions: these “commercial” cloud offerings allow commercial and government customers to share the same operating environment, they co-mingle foreign entities with US entities, they don’t offer the right type of virus protection across the infrastructure, they don’t guarantee that system access will only be with US citizen with security clearances. Most importantly, they haven’t passed the specific agency interpretation of the NIST or DIACAP Certification standards.

Here’s the beef:
The Federal Government can use RightNow because we are the first and only cloud provider with a purpose-built solution that has passed Federal agency and DoD certification requirements. As I wrote in April, we took a couple of years to research and understand the unique security and accreditation requirements, and we brought our “secure” government cloud option to market to address the unique security needs of federal agencies and commands within the Department of Defense. The response to this solution has been outstanding. 90 percent of our Government customers are already live in the cloud with our Government solution or are in the process of migrating away from their on-premise deployment. And we are forecasting that 100% of our customers will be in our Government cloud by the end of 2010 – state, local and Federal.

Turns out that the only beef in Government cloud computing is coming out of Montana with RightNow CX in a RightNow Government Cloud. Everyone else is serving mostly bun.
Do you think that the federal government should lower its security standards to do business with the likes of SalesForce, Google, and Oracle? Or should it require cloud providers to deliver on the same certification and accreditation proof points to protect our national interests?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Laef Olson
Laef leads RightNow's strategy and vision for the company's technology operations including RightNow's hosting and data center management, internal systems design and development, and corporate security.


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