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Big Blue descends on gov services

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IBM is sinking its teeth deeper into government IT today with a new software framework that joins the company's expansive middleware portfolio into a neat package for The Man 2.0.

The new IBM Government Industry Framework is designed for government citizen services – a market that covers nearly everything fed except defense and intelligence. (IBM already provides a military-grade software platform that it's keeping separate for a variety of control and security reasons).

Lonne Jaffe, director IBM Public Sectors Solutions, told El Reg the framework is something the company has worked on internally over the past four years or so, but it also ties nicely into current US stimulus funding.

Specifically, IBM is targeting five domains it sees as particularly ripe for the IT overhauls: tax and revenue management; safety and security; social services and social security; integrated urban infrastructure; and intelligent transportation.

While IBM expects a healthy portion of its customers to be US agencies with stimulus checks burning in their pockets, IBM also expects particular interest from government markets in China and India as well.

Key middleware components of the government framework are Cognos 8 Business Intelligence, WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Message Broker, WebSphere Portal, and WebSphere DataPower X150.

There's also optional kit like DB2, InfoSphere, Lotus, Tivoli, and various other software lines and hardware as the job applies.

On top of the tested and bundled middleware is a layer of industry-specific extensions, standards, and models that tailor the platform to a respective government domain. For instance, there's a turn-key solution for federal stimulus tracking using Cognos, said Jaffe.

Another example is software that analyzes traffic patterns and congestion in real-time. It then uses technology from IBM Research to predicts where the traffic patterns will be in the future so a government agency can dynamically re-route traffic lighting or change prices on certain tolling.

Jaffe said IBM also devised a "smart city command center" that serves as a central location where a city official can view a dashboard showing the state of various systems like the city's electric grid, water, and public safety management in one place.

The timing of IBM's platform comes a little more than a month after US Federal CIO Vivek Kundra began promoting government agencies to begin using cloud services rather than building new data centers as a way to save money and cut energy consumption.

IBM's plan does take into account the new-found government love for web-side solutions to a certain extent. The platform will be available both as an in-house and cloud solution – but the functions IBM will host initially won't be the ones tied down with extensive government regulatory restrains. Jaffe explains that IBM doesn't see too many government agencies pushing out their sensitive data to the web immediately, but would be ready to extend the offering if the market demands.

Big Blue reckons its business partners will be encouraged to build upon its new government software framework because they can not only skip the generic industry middleware but also the adapters, connectors, and data models specific to the government industry already in the box.

“They can focus on their higher value applications, which is where all their expertise is and where all their margin is,” said Jaffe. He also said that since it's IBM pumping the platform across the world, there will be plenty of market opportunities for that platform. ®

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