The government has officially adopted a “cloud-first" policy at both a central department level and among the wider public sector as part of the ongoing overhaul of the government’s use of IT to drive savings and improve efficiencies.
The government had announced its intention to do this back in March but has now made this a central tenet of its strategy. Whitehall will expect departments to purchase from the G-Cloud as the main resource, with departments having to make a case for any non-cloud deployments.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “Many government departments already use G-Cloud, but IT costs are still too high. One way we can reduce them is to accelerate the adoption of cloud across the public sector to maximise its benefits. The cloud-first policy will embed the skills a modern civil service needs to meet the demands of 21st-century digital government and help us get ahead in the global race.”
As part of the announcement, the government has also launched the third version of the G-Cloud framework, adding 368 new firms to the programme, bringing the total number accredited to sell services to the public sector to 708, of which over 80 percent are SMEs.
The government is hoping to use the G-Cloud to boost spending with SMEs after years of public sector IT being dominated by large firms on hugely expensive contracts. G-Cloud programme director Denise McDonagh said the to date the majority of the £18m spend on the CloudStore has been with SMEs, and hopes are that this will continue to rise.
“This is still small relative to overall government IT spend, and the transition to widespread purchasing of IT services as a commodity won’t happen overnight," she said.
"The adoption of a cloud-first policy will give added impetus for Whitehall and the wider public sector to move in this direction – complementing our ongoing work to encourage cloud adoption and to help buyers adapt to this way of purchasing IT, which is already showing results."
Earlier this year the government celebrated the one-year anniversary of G-Cloud's launch, although industry watchers said uptake on the platform remains minimal. The government will be hoping its new policy changes that.
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