Shyam Sankar Provides Context on Make vs Buy in the Federal Ecosystem

build or buy

Note: I realize that so many are focusing hard on our collective actions to beat the COVID-19 pandemic and was thinking of holding off this article till we can return more focus to enterprise IT. Then I realized that this article may be more important than ever. If you know of anyone anywhere in government who is thinking of building/coding a new data system to track issues around the pandemic they should just stop and should buy a commercial platform. That gives instant results vice results months or years from now (or with such a high failure rate, never). Which do you think the nation needs right now? Fast via commercial solutions or never via government built solutions?

On 26 Feb 2020 FedScoop published an insightful piece authored by Shyam Sankar of Palantir that provides important context on the COTS vs GOTS discussion now underway in DoD and the IC.

It is now clearer than every that the issues and recommendations captured by the DSB in their famous 1987 report on software and reviewed again in by the Congressionally mandated software study of the Defense Innovation Board can no longer be ignored.

Government off the Shelf (GOTS) software is NOT a good deal. Shyam underscores this by referencing a survey by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) that found GOTS programs cost the government 70% more than Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) solutions.

But cost is NOT the worst thing here! More often than not, the mission suffers, badly, because of GOTS. GOTS builds in vulnerabilities, GOTS reduces agility, and GOTS makes it harder to innovate.

The points Shyam makes are very consistent with what we are seeing from leadership in DoD (like General Hyten) and other commercial innovators (like Elon Musk).

Shyam also raises a new point I have not seen injected into the public discourse yet. He mentions the fact that there are times when the government inadvertently hurts commercial innovation (which further hurts the ability of industry to serve the government) by creating GOTS products that compete with COTS. If a GOTS product competes with a COTS product, not only does the government get a poorer capability that they pay more for, but they then make it harder for innovators in industry to compete and win.

Said another way, when COTS software competes with US companies, not only does it deliver less value for more cost, but it may well be harming the very interest we aim to protect.

Read the full piece at FedScoop.

Track the most disruptive technologies by diving into our categorized index:

Artificial Intelligence Companies – A fast overview of Artificial Intelligence companies we believe are poised to cause the most positive disruption in the enterprise.

Big Data Companies – Reference to the greatest, most disruptive Big Data companies in the tech ecosystem.

Business Intelligence Companies – We assess these to be the Business Intelligence Companies most impactful for delivering real decision advantage.

Cybersecurity Companies – We apply our deep expertise in cybersecurity to assessing the best across multiple categories including:

Cloud Computing Companies – We include both platform and software as a service providers, capturing only the most innovative and disruptive.

Collaborative Tool Companies – These are the firms that help humans connect to humans to create, manage and lead.

Infrastructure Companies – Critical enterprise foundations for business agility.

IoT Companies – Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things are here. How do you manage them?

Mobile Companies – Help manage, configure, secure and optimize these very powerful capabilities.

Robotics Companies – Including innovations in Robotic Process Automation, Drones, and industrial robotics.

Services Companies – We only track a few, the ones we really know well.

Tech Titans – These are the big players. We track the tech titans closely since their capabilities change continuously.

VC, PE and Finance Companies – Keeping an eye on the investors can give indications of coming developments.

You can also use our topical pages to get up to speed quickly on the current status of the major megatrends. See our pages on Cloud ComputingArtificial IntelligenceMobilityBig DataRoboticsInternet of ThingsCybersecurity and Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies.

We also provide special pages focused on high interest topics, including Science FictionEntertainmentCyber WarTech CareersTraining and Education and Tech Tips.