I spent the day in a lengthy session with my team working on a budget plan for the next 12 months. One of the topics was whether we should build a “web service broker”. Simon Freeman, who designed much of the original Government Gateway and still understands more about it than pretty much anyone, is a fan of this. It feels to me a lot like it did in mid-2000 when we first kicked around the Gateway idea. Everyone vaguely understands what it’s for, noone desperately wants one now, but not putting it in place in time risks the creation of tens, hundreds or even thousands of incompatible, insecure and difficult to use web services. It took more than a year for the Gateway to gain proper traction and, if I’m honest, with some people and some departments it hasn’t yet got there. The good thing is, for the most part, people aren’t doing something else instead of the Gateway, they’re just not doing anything. I don’t think the same will be true for web services. Many will wonder how to secure them but, eventually, a few will take the plunge and then the snowball will roll.
I need to do some studying to catch up with the latest thinking on such things and I plan to setup a session with some of the key folks in industry so that we can figure out what government needs to put in place – both for infrastructure and standards – before we get too far to draw it all together.