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G-Cloud proving tough sell to public sector after first 12 months

20 Feb 2013
Cloud computing suppliers announced by government

A year has now passed since the government launched its G-Cloud programme to try and drive the uptake of cloud computing in the public sector. But is there a reason to celebrate the anniversary of this programme?

The G-Cloud system allows the public sector to rent the use of services as needed and do away with lengthy contracts. The system also allows SMBs to sell to government departments alongside larger enterprises.

While the Cabinet Office has been keenly marketing the programme in the public sector, publically celebrating each G-cloud contract signed and holding regular BuyCamp events extoling the benefits of using cloud services, there remain challenges to the programme's adoption among civil servants and local government workers.

The latest iteration of the framework, launched a month ago in January, offers the public sector a choice of 3,200 services from 459 suppliers, three-quarters of which are small and mid-size businesses. According to the government, G-Cloud suppliers have now made £6m from the programme since its launch, with over 60 percent of this going to SMBs.

G-Cloud director Denise McDonaghG-Cloud programme director Denise McDonagh said there is reason to celebrate the one-year anniversary, although she admitted experiencing challenges in shifting the culture of the public sector.

"After only a year most big government departments have bought services from the Cloud, and there is significant buy-in from local government. Evidence of the benefits of cloud is growing all the time, and we are working with buyers to help them adapt to commodity-based IT purchasing," she said.

However according to IT advisory partner at Ernst & Graeme Swan of Ernst & YoungYoung, Graeme Swan, the government's G-Cloud programme team will need outside help when trying to shift deep-rooted public sector procurement attitudes that have a tendency to favour larger, more traditional and on-premise suppliers.

"My general view is the Cabinet Office [which leads the G-Cloud programme] have done a good job, showing good leadership and good PR. They have built a great website and well done to them," he said in an interview with V3.

"The problem is that no one is using the G-Cloud. Although the Cabinet Office says it's the programme's first year and it needs time to gather momentum, I'm just not sure this is the case.

"The problem is that firstly many government departments don't understand how to buy these services and secondly they don't know how to integrate them with the rest of their IT infrastructure."

Swan said a large number of government departments lack intelligent and competent IT buyers as well as the necessary integration skills. Also many departments tend to lack a service-oriented-architecture (SOA) IT set-up that would allow them to plug and play cloud services easily.

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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