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Government fumbles around, unable to find the spot on the G-Cloud

Nick Booth canvasses some opinion about just what is happening with G-Cloud

They so nearly had it, but now it’s gone. The momentum is lost and they’ll have to start again. What is it about our government? Why, after so many attempts, are they still unable to hit the G-Cloud spot? Are they clueless, clumsy or is it because they just don’t care? You know, sometimes I wonder if they don’t just want to go back to their friends. You know, that horrible crowd the government seems so loyal to, for no apparent reason.

Analyst Clive Longbottom, at Quocirca agrees. “G-Cloud has gone backwards, unfortunately.  Since it was moved to come under new management, there has been a bit of a power struggle going on,” says Longbottom. Now that G-Cloud 7 has been forced to adopt a stupid cap any expansion over 20 per cent is infeasible. If things get too exciting, the party is over and both participants are forced to start all over again.

Who’d want to be a solutions provider under these circumstances? Small wonder that many parties are pulling out and the old order is being re-imposed.

Not that the cloud revolution ever really got started in the public sector. “eight hundred million quid’s worth of transactions? Wow. That’s the biscuit fund for the Cabinet Office,” says Longbottom, “

If G-Cloud is to be taken seriously and there is a Cloud First mentality for the Civil Service, this should be in the hundreds of billions by now.”

As things stand, the people running G-Cloud seems to be all talk and no action, he says. “They’ll just keep shovelling very large amounts of money at Capita, IBM, Fujitsu, Accenture, HP and co,” says Longbottom.

Tony Pepper, CEO of Egress, one of the suppliers signed up to the G-Cloud, says the new rule (an effective limit on expansion of cloud services) makes them less cloud like and makes contracts harder for smaller companies to compete. “I think this could end up with larger contracts inevitably being awarded to the usual suspects,” says Pepper.      

Among the new suppliers pledging to meet the conditions of the latest framework were Fordway, Acuity, Company 85, RedCentric and Komodo Digital. Some of them are still quite optimistic. “Most IT teams will only migrate their systems to cloud once, and it’s a big step. For the sake of their organisation and their own careers it needs to be planned and delivered successfully, on time and within budget, without any surprises,” says Fordway MD Richard Blanford.

But surely the point of the cloud is that it can cater for the unexpected. It was supposed to open things up. Now they appear to be closing down again. Historically, we’ve seen the same big-name enterprise suppliers dominate government services. When it was introduced back in 2012, the G-Cloud framework strived to redistribute government services and allow smaller companies the opportunity to bid for projects equally.

The administrators have conspired to knobble the new framework, stopping users from taking advantage of the flexibility and elasticity that comes hand in hand with public cloud.

“This will be a huge deterrent for users and may drive them away from G-Cloud altogether,” says Rob Greenwood, technical director, Steamhaus. “This may cause something of a U-turn, resulting in the big vendors or larger public service cloud suppliers picking up the lion’s share of contracts. Sadly, this defeats the purpose of an open marketplace.”

It could get even worse, he says. “We may also see a rise of G-Cloud tenders which purposely over-inflate usage estimates (and therefore taxpayers’ money) in order to work around the 20% limit,” says Greenwood, “This would make G-Cloud look more successful by increasing the amount of revenue it generates.”

There might be hope yet, if IT vendors can create an awareness raising campaign. According to a study by Dods Research among 1,086 senior local government staff across the United Kingdom 34 per cent didn’t know what G-Cloud was. For some reason, I think public sector buyers like dealing with the big players. Anything for an easy life. After all, it’s not they’re money they’re spending.

This was last published in November 2015

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