One trend I find particularly disturbing...
There is at least one company out there (name omitted) that markets web-based solutions for government agencies. Not for the PUBLIC, mind you -- I am all for online registration of car tags, etc. -- but for ENTERPRISE use by gov't employees.
The idea (how their marketers sell it) is that instead of devoting countless IT hours to maintaining big enterprise apps on local servers and hardware, pay us and we'll maintain the thing on OUR servers in far away places. Via the magic of the interweb, your employees will have access to all their data right in their computer's browser, just like it was "local", but without the hassles of configuring workstations, maintaining servers, etc.
We're not talking about cat licenses here, or when it's legal to water your lawn... this is often patient-confidential data, customer financial data, and lots of stuff critical to the functionality of the agency in question.
Think about that for a second. Potentially YOUR data (depending on which state you live in the US) is being hosed back and forth over the internet daily as part of the normal business operations in some agencies.
Security issues aside, why is this a bad idea?
Has anyone noticed that the intertube is not necessarily 100% reliable? What happens when some script-kiddie gets mad at (say) the state of California and DOS attacks the frack out of the state servers? I'll tell you: nobody gets any work done.
Of similar concern: what if the vendor goes out of business? The data's all stored on THEIR servers. Sure, contingency plans exist (e.g. "in the event of operational shut-down a copy of the data shall be delivered to the customer") but that's little comfort if you don't have a crack IT staff standing by to rebuild your enterprise. And that's assuming the customer even GETS the data -- I've personally witnessed situations where the customer ended up with nothing.
A better solution would be to run the vendor's wonderful software inside the firewalls, on state-owned hardware. But that's not the business model that sells, apparently, because none of the customers I know using this product operate that way.
It's a disaster waiting to happen, many know it, but are powerless to do anything. I know, because some have tried. It seems the interlink is a Bright Shiny Object that overcomes rational thought, at least for some folks.
Sorry for the rant, but this situation has been on my mind since this thread started. It's not a condemnation of web-based apps, far from it... just an observation that not everyone is immune to the power of marketing bad ideas.