Oracle, Red Hat Called In To Support Struggling Obamacare Site


As part of the so-called "tech surge" to fix the ailing Affordable Care Act site, the government has called in some big-name reinforcements, reports said Friday.

Oracle and Red Hat are the latest addition to the tech surge initiative that started earlier this month. The companies will join QSSI and CGI, which were told to ramp up efforts to fix the program after they helped create it. QSSI has been named systems integrator for the project, taking over the job from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Since its rollout at the beginning of October, the site for the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, has struggled to keep up with high traffic demands that revealed major underlying software problems. Earlier this week, administrators apologized before congress for the site's flop and blamed contractors for a majority of its problems. Internal memos released by CBS Friday show that the site was only able to enroll six people in the first 24 hours it was open and 248 in the first two days.

[Related: Obamacare Site Disaster: 10 Steps Solution Providers Would Take To Fix It]

Others jumping on board for the surge include Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer at Google, and Greg Gershman, Mobomo's director of innovation, CMS announced. Dickerson is working with QSSI independently of Google, and Gershman is working with CGI.

The government did not say what each of the companies would specifically be doing to help fix the site, only that they would be involved. Red Hat declined to comment, and Oracle did not respond to CRN's requests for comment.

Oracle and Red Hat are smart choices to help repair the system, said Kumar Nandigam, CEO of Plano-Texas-based Tekpros, which partners with both Oracle and Red Hat.

The contractors are already using Oracle databases for the HealthCare.gov system, Reuters reported. Nandigam said his company has been an Oracle partner for eight years and that he thinks it offers great database and back-end data technology. He said he believes Oracle could fix the problems built into the system.

"I think [Oracle] will be able to fix the site sooner and build a better solution for Obamacare," Nandigam said.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison addressed the issue at Thursday's annual software maker's meeting.

"I know it's a very political topic," Ellison said at the meeting. "As an information technology company, we are doing everything we can to help."

Nandigam said Tekpros has been a Red Hat partner for five years and has worked very closely with the company, including testing Red Hat's software in the Raleigh, N.C.-based company's own labs.

"I think [Red Hat has] one of the best operating systems, especially in the Linux space. Especially all the corporate companies we work with, everyone wants to do Red Hat. If they were going to jump in and do this and fix Obamacare, I think they are the right choice," Nandigam said.

He said Red Hat is particularly a good choice because it is so flexible and has the API to integrate different product sites, like in the healthcare exchange.

The administration has promised to have the website running smoothly by the end of November.

PUBLISHED NOV. 1, 2013