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The History of Uberization

The usage of the word “uberize” should be a source of endless amusement for contemporary wordsmith. Today, any new product, as long as it’s the slightest bit digital, will be deemed uberized, which at first glance, will immediately terrorize the competitors that brace themselves on archaic methods and create admiration of crowds swooning before such creative daring. Don’t laugh! Soon, term will be so generalized it will be found on our school playgrounds! Imagine that shortly, in the evening, the Rimbaud family, with the mother scolding the child, “I don’t believe it! You have another teacher’s note! She said you refused to uberize! She surprised you again with a book instead of your tablet! What are we going to do with you, Arthur?”. Despite limited uberization in my day-to-day, at my age, I still don’t have a Facebook account, preferring to see my friends over a bottle of wine. This doesn’t prevent me from yielding to the fashion of “uberizingly” labeling any subject where digitalization is a sign of modernity. Here, it is at the highest peak. No, not God, just below Him – the government.

Although comparison is not reason, it is interesting to see how two countries have a different approach to the cloud with the goal of modernizing administration into a better service at a lower cost all based on digital tools.

France’s approach to the subject was, first of all, the reproduction of a formula that worked during the Pompidou era, with big plans where the government initiated strong industrial change. The creation of two companies from scratch was no surprise in defending a notion of a sovereign cloud. Quickly criticized with accusations about the distortion generated in local stakeholders and on the teams formed, in the end, wasn’t the weak point the absence in the 2011-2012 period of a customer need expressed in these subjects by the government? Setting up an inter-ministerial department of computer systems helped to open up a mutualized approach to define the top priorities. Once of the first ones expressed in early 2014 was to reduce the number of data centers within the administration. And this summer, it all ended up with the choice of one service provider to become the official provider of the cloud to the government.

The United States had a different approach. In 2011, the Director of Administration Computer Systems published a document, “Federal Cloud Computing Strategy”, defining the administration’s path toward migrating its environments toward the cloud, quickly for some and over a longer term for others. One imperative highlighted was also to turn toward existing offers with the direct consequence of the scheduled closing within 3 years of virtually half of the administration’s data centers. Faced with this determined objective, the various departments had a legal framework to support them. Still, they remained free in their choice of commercial service provider, except this provider had to be certified in the context of FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program – http://www.fedramp.gov/). This program combines two, often opposed aspects: promoting innovative offers while guaranteeing especially developed security processes. It should help in accelerating the appropriation of the cloud by administrative departments by leaving the door open to any provider that agrees to pass certification.

This approach, which combines on objective (the arrival of governmental department onto the cloud) and a regulatory framework (FedRAMP) has strong advantages:

– Proposing a diversity of technical architectures. A department has specific needs, a desire for such-and-such underlying technique, an openstack, for example, and it will necessarily find a response from among certified providers.

– Ensuring the conditions of competition, guaranteeing the best prices.

– Providing a context for companies. We know that the certifications issued by a government are also particularly analyzed by private companies when making their technical choices. At a time when companies are increasingly prone to cyber-attacks, it is not absurd that the government has set obligations in terms of security and report cloud providers who respect them.

– Promoting the future emergence of cloud uberization, which will bring technological upheavals by addressing this open market.

Of course, it would be possible to attribute this approach to the only liberal fiber to be found across the Atlantic, but this isn’t exactly the case. In any case, and in most countries, governments have not transformed into cloud providers – this is left up to the private sector. The subject here is the best approach to modernize our country, but also to create a call for air to digital companies, not through subsidies, but by public orders. They are vectors of growth and a source of tomorrow’s jobs.

In another subject, the French government has already had an approach similar to FedRAMP, with ANSSI, which certifies products in the field of safety. Just think; from that point on, ANSSI could carry out the same mission as FedRAMP for cloud providers!