The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) last week became the first government body to buy through the G-Cloud framework, procuring agile services from supplier Emergn for £10,000 using the CloudStore service catalogue, in a move the agency hopes will slash IT costs and improve efficiency.
James Findlay, project director at MCA, said the CloudStore was the best procurement vehicle to buy agile training services as part of its nationally networked project, the Future Coastguard Programme, which is being developed using agile methodologies.
“The actual procurement itself took less than 24 hours, which is unusually fast for government IT. It just involved looking at a catalogue of services and buying as a commodity,” Findlay said.
Transparency of costs and services were also key to the MCA’s decision to use the CloudStore. “Because it’s transparent, it was easy to go for the lowest price for what we wanted, that saved a lot of time and legwork," he said.
Findlay said the MCA will make further procurements through CloudStore, such as e-mail offerings: “We will look at an appropriate time to migrate to a cloud environment and will be looking at this on a case by case basis in terms of how it fits in with our refresh roadmap," he said.
“It will mean the IT team can focus on the front-line, mission-critical products. Commodity services will be very attractive, as it should bring the price point to an amount less than we’d run in-house.”
As part of the government’s IT strategic implementation plan, the MCA is the Department for Transport’s lead for agile delivery.
“You always hear of government projects going wrong and we didn’t want that to happen. So we were looking for an innovative solution to deliver the programme. There is ICT in there, with a lot of communication involved, but also a lot of people issues involved too, including rationalisation of centres,” said Findlay.
CloudStore went live in February after a quick-fire five-month procurement process, that signed up 257 suppliers to offer commoditised cloud services through the portal, ranging from simple infrastructure such as on-demand storage, up to software-as-a-service products such as productivity tools, ERP and CRM applications.
The site allows public sector buyers to easily compare services and prices from different suppliers, and aims to use that transparency to drive down costs.