$634,000,000 if you're the US government - and the darned thing doesn't even work! (I assure you, there is nothing more I'd like to do than rant about the government and healthcare insurance. Sadly, this is not the forum. However, I will vent by discussing the technical and financial angles of the "Obamacare" website debacle.)


The Price Tag

I've built many websites (that worked, mind you) over the years and the cost ranged in price from $0 to $0. Granted, my websites were not as complex as the Obamacare one, but $634,000,000? Really??


$634,000,000 can buy you the following items:

  • 27 Boeing 747 airplanes
  • 21,000 BMW cars
  • 634,000 really good computers
  • 4,226 houses fully paid for
  • 12,680 full time employees for one year @ $50,000/yr
  • 176,000 health insurance premiums paid for a family of four for an entire year
  • 1 broken website

Why Did it Cost so much?

Most geeks have one thing in common: The desire to overcome obstacles. Take Napster and The Pirate Bay, for example. They were created as a way to overcome the cost of media. Geeks are usually poor in the early stages of their lives. Creating technology that overcomes personal expenses is beneficial for said geek because, a) the cost of what he's looking for goes down when he invents/finds a way, and b) his education and creativity skyrocket by putting forth the effort to achieve his goal. Legal issues aside, geeks usually look for ways to be free from cost and restrictions. With this knowledge and desire, the geek can then convert that into a profit by building efficient and creative technology. Vis-à-vis, a website that works.


The government, on the other hand, has no such motivation to be efficient. With endless tax dollars pouring in and nary a profit to be seen, why would cost be an issue? Who worries about cost when the money being spent is not their own?


The Technology Used

For all you uber-geeks, you can view the code of the homepage here. (Looks fine to me...not!) It's being reported that the website was designed to handle 50,000 users. I would think, if the government were logical and optimistic, that they would want everyone in the country to sign up. The website should have had the ability to handle 300 million people. (They could have started with at least 10 million IMHO.) My rinky-dink site that cost me $0 can handle 50,000!


What Did We Learn?

  • Cost <> Quality
  • Necessity is the mother of invention. Really. Check out all the cool new features we added to SAM - and it cost us slightly less than $634 million.
  • SolarWinds is a company full of geeks that do have a profit motive. We worry about cost and pass the savings on to you
  • We are geeks and find ways to overcome obstacles every day, which transforms into a better product for you at a cheaper price
  • I'm sure I can build a better website at half the price. I wouldn't mind having 2,000 homes and a few thousand cars. Who's with me?