Speaking at Business Cloud Summit 2012, Denise McDonagh, director of the government's G-Cloud programme, called for public sector champions to push forward adoption of the G-Cloud.
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G-Cloud is in its third year of development. "We have to make it sustainable," McDonagh told delegates.
Systems integration, accreditation and teething problems around how suppliers invoice still need to be sorted out. But the biggest challenge is convincing government departments that the G-Cloud works.
She admitted that to make the public cloud a reality, there needed to be more clarity. In particular, she pointed out that government departments are often hampered by red tape, and work in a traditional “nine-point” procurement plan that needs a 100-page requirements document.
“We need to challenge resistance. G-Cloud is legal, and is very competitive,” said McDonagh.
Even where bespoke software is used, such as the case management system at the Home Office, the IT infrastructure needed to run it can be cloud-based, she said.
Taking G-Cloud forward
- Make selection easier
- Challenge red tape
- Target C-level and doers
- Clarity on policy
"Storage is storage – I might have bespoke applications, but we are using infrastructure as a service,” added McDonagh.
She said that some people in government did not understand what could be commodity through cloud services, pointing out that even if security is a top priority, there is no reason for 10 departments to get different quotes from the same set of suppliers for a secure desktop.
“In government, a lot of us do the same things. Why develop your own secure email if there is a secure email cloud service?” said McDonagh. “If it can be commoditised, then it should be in the cloud.”
She said that cloud champions were needed to unlock its potential.
“One of the best things about the cloud is you can buy something for a few months, and if you don't like it you can buy something else, or try before you buy,” she added.
The cloud requires IT integration, an IT function that has traditionally been outsourced to large service integrators, but government departments need to take more control over this, said McDonagh.
“We need to take accountability for integration. You never truly outsource the risk, so why pay suppliers to take on the risk?”