Category Archives: G-Cloud

G-Cloud – why being certified matters

Cloud computingIt might surprise you to know that more than £900m worth of sales have now taken place via the G-Cloud platform since its launch. The Government initiated the G-Cloud program in 2012 to deliver computing based capability (from fundamental resources such as storage and processing to full-fledged applications) using cloud and it has been hugely successful, providing benefits to both customers and suppliers alike.

The G-Cloud framework is offered via the Digital Marketplace and is provided by The Crown Commercial Service (CCS), an organisation working to save money for the public sector and the taxpayer. The CCS acts on behalf of the Crown to drive savings for the taxpayer and improve the quality of commercial and procurement activity. The CCS’ procurement services can be used by central government departments and organisations across the public sector, including local government, health, education, not-for-profit and devolved administrations.

G-Cloud approves framework agreements with a number of service providers and lists those services on a publicly accessible portal known as the Digital Marketplace. This way, public sector organisations can approach the services listed on the Digital Marketplace without needing to go through a full tender process.

G-Cloud has substantial benefits for both providers and customers looking to buy services. For vendors the benefit is clear – to be awarded as an official supplier for G-Cloud demonstrates that the company has met the standards laid out in the G-Cloud framework and it is compliant with these standards. Furthermore, it also opens up an exciting new opportunities to supply the public sector in the UK with the chance to reduce their costs. Likewise it brings recognition to the brand and further emphasises their position as a reputable provider of digital services.

Where public sector organisations are concerned, G-Cloud gives quick and easy access to a roster of approved and certified suppliers that have been rigorously assessed, cutting down on the time to research and find such vendors in the marketplace. This provides companies with a head start in finding the cloud services that will best address their business and technical needs.

I am proud to say that iland was awarded a place on the G-Cloud framework agreement for supplying Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) at the end of last year. We deliver flexible, cost-effective and secure Infrastructure-as-a-Service solutions from data centres in London and Manchester, including Enterprise Cloud Services with Advanced Security and Compliance, Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service and Cloud Backup.

So if you are looking to source a cloud provider, I would recommend that you start your search with those that have been awarded a place on the G-Cloud framework agreement. It is important to then work with prospective providers to ensure their platform, service level agreements, native management tools and support teams can deliver the solutions that best address your business goals as well as your security and compliance requirements. Ask questions up front. Ensure the provider gives you full transparency into your cloud environment. Get a demonstration. You will then be well on your way to capitalizing on the promises of cloud.

Written by Monica Brink, EMEA Marketing Director, iland

New players ally to G-Cloud 7 amid accusations of anti-cloud behaviour

Cloud computingA number of new service providers have announced their participation in the latest iteration of the UK’s government computing services framework, G-Cloud 7. Among the new suppliers pledging to meet the conditions of the latest framework were Fordway, Acuity, Company 85, RedCentric and Komodo Digital.

However, critics have argued that The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has introduced uncloud-like behaviour, as newly introduced limits could hinder buyers from expanding their use of cloud services.

Under the new rules in G-Cloud 7, users will be forced to re-tender via G-Cloud if they intend to buy additional capacity or services that will cost more than 20% of their original contract’s value. This, according to industry body EuroCloud UK, goes against the defining principle of cloud computing, scalability.

“It deters buyers from using the G-Cloud framework, because it actively discourages the pay per use principle,” said Neil Bacon, MD of Global Introductions and a member of EuroCloud’s G-Cloud working group. Worse still, he said, it will prevent buyers from getting the economies of scale that are the original motivation for their buying decision.

Several G-Cloud providers, including EduServ and Skyscape, outlined their concerns about the move in writing to the Cabinet Office. However, Surrey-based service provider Fordway has committed to the new system, launching its Cloud Intermediation Service (CIS) on G-Cloud 7.

The new service helps clients assess, plan, transform and migrate their infrastructure partly or completely to public cloud. It promises agile project management, bundling together the resources that clients will need to support their in-house team at each stage of the transition.

Fordway claims its relationships with public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google allow it to create a pivotal single point of contact to manage a transition irrespective of the target platforms.

In Fordway’s case, clients may not be subject to unexpected fluctuations in capacity demand, according to MD Richard Blanford.

“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,” said Blanford.

G-Cloud: Much has been achieved, but the programme still needs work

The UK government is ahead of the curve in cloud, but work still needs doing

The UK government is ahead of the curve in cloud, but work still needs doing

Thanks to G-Cloud, the once stagnant public sector IT marketplace that was dominated by a small number of large incumbent providers, is thriving. More and more SMEs are listing their assured cloud services on the framework, which is driving further competition and forcing down costs for public sector organisations, ultimately benefitting each and every UK tax payer.  But the programme still needs work.

G-Cloud initially aimed to achieve annual savings of more than £120m and to account for at least half of all new central Government spend by this year. The Government Digital Service has already estimated that G-Cloud is yielding efficiencies of at least 50 per cent, comfortably exceeding the initial target set when the Government’s Cloud Strategy was published in 2011.

According to the latest figures, the total reported G-Cloud sales to date have now exceeded £591m, with 49 per cent of total sales by value and 58 per cent by volume, having been awarded to SMEs. 76 per cent of total sales by value were through central Government; 24 per cent through the wider public sector, so while significant progress has been made, more work is clearly needed to educate local Government organisations on the benefits of G-Cloud and assured cloud services.

To provide an example of the significant savings achieved by a public sector organisation following a move to the cloud, the DVLA’s ‘View driving record’ platform, hosted on GOV.UK, secured online access to driving records for up to 40 million drivers for the insurance industry, which it is hoped will help to reduce premiums. Due to innovative approaches including cloud hosting, the DVLA managed to save 66 per cent against the original cost estimate.

Contracts held within the wider public sector with an estimated total value of over £6bn are coming to an end.  Therefore continued focus must be placed on disaggregating large contracts to ensure that all digital and ICT requirements that can be based on the cloud are based on the cloud, and sourced from the transparent and vendor-diverse Government Digital Marketplace.

Suppliers, especially SMEs and new players who don’t have extensive networks within the sector, also need much better visibility of downstream opportunities. Currently, G-Cloud is less transparent than conventional procurements in this respect, where pre-tender market engagements and prior information notices are now commonplace and expected.

However, where spend controls cannot be applied, outreach and education must accelerate, and G-Cloud terms and conditions must also meet the needs of the wider public sector. The G-Cloud two year contract term is often cited as a reason for not procuring services through the framework, as is the perceived inability for buyers to incorporate local, but mandatory terms and conditions.

The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 introduced a number of changes to EU procurement regulations, and implemented the Lord Young reforms, which aim to make public procurements more accessible and less onerous for SMEs. These regulations provide new opportunities for further contractual innovation, including (but not limited to) dynamic purchasing systems, clarification of what a material contract change means in practice, and giving buyers the ability to take supplier performance into account when awarding a contract.

The G-Cloud Framework terms and conditions must evolve to meet the needs of the market as a whole, introducing more flexibility to accommodate complex legacy and future requirements, and optimising the opportunities afforded by the new public contract regulations. The introduction of the Experian score as the sole means of determining a supplier’s financial health in the G-Cloud 6 Framework is very SME unfriendly, and does not align to the Crown Commercial Service’s own policy on evaluation of financial stability. The current drafting needs to be revisited for G-Cloud 7.

As all parts of the public sector are expected to be subject to ongoing fiscal pressure, and because digitising public services will continue to be a focus for the new Conservative Government, the wider public sector uptake of G-Cloud services must continue to be a priority. Looking to the future of G-Cloud, the Government will need to put more focus on educating buyers on G-Cloud procurement, the very real opportunities that G-Cloud can bring, underlined by the many success stories to date, and ensuring the framework terms and conditions are sufficiently flexible to support the needs of the entire buying community. G-Cloud demonstrates the possibilities when Government is prepared to be radical and innovative and in order to build on the significant progress that has been made, we hope that G-Cloud will be made a priority over the next five years.

Written by Nicky Stewart, commercial director at Skyscape Cloud Services

Examining the G-Cloud Initiative – How the UK Public Sector is moving to the Cloud

Guest Post by Ben Jones

Ben Jones is a tech writer, interested in how technology helps businesses. He’s been assisting businesses in setting up cloud based IT services around the south of England.

There’s a cloud on the horizon of Whitehall. But this isn’t a prediction of stormy times ahead. No, this is the G-Cloud, and it’s being heralded by some as government’s biggest ever IT breakthrough.

In years gone by, the government has been accused of paying too much for IT contracts, many of which were won by a small number of suppliers. But now, the G-Cloud initiative aims to change this. The online system called, CloudStore, is part of the government’s plans to slash IT costs by £200million per year. So how is this going to be achieved? Well, the target is to move half of the government’s IT spending to cloud computing services and the CloudStore, also dubbed the government’s app store, is the key.

It was first announced as a government strategy almost 18 months ago in March 2011 with specific aim of making IT services for the public sector easier and cheaper. This means ditching the expensive bespoke IT services with lengthy, expensive contracts. Instead this initiative aims to replace these with more choice both in suppliers and, as a result prices. It’s a radical change in the historic approach by both the government and the public sector. Furthermore, cloud computing has the potential to be a global governmental strategy, with the American government already having its own version in place. And a look at the figures gives a clear indication why, with some governmental departments reporting a drop in the cost of IT services by as much as 90 per cent. And following the first CloudStore catalogue launch in mid-February, some 5000 pages were viewed in the first two hours, and in the first ten weeks, contracts worth £500,000 were signed. In this first procurement, around 257 suppliers offering approximately 1700 services were signed to the first G-Cloud CloudStore.

It’s the government’s attempt to bring competitiveness to its suppliers, encouraging a wider selection and promoting flexibility in procurements thus allowing more choice to the public sector. And what’s interesting is the mix of both small and medium sized businesses with over half of the suppliers signed to the first CloudStore being SMEs. This includes the likes of web hosting company Memset whose managing director Kate Craig-Wood backed the G-Cloud Services, who says they offered value for money for the taxpayer.

This new initiative heralds a new era for the British government and the wider public sector. And it’s hoped the new IT system will put paid to the Government’s history of ill-advised and mismanaged IT projects. That’s not to say there haven’t been any concerns over the G-Cloud Initiative. Some key concerns have related to how it’s going to be rolled out to public sector workers across the UK with some employees having fears over security as well as a lack of understanding. However, these haven’t stopped the second round of procurement for the G-Cloud in May 2012 with the total procurement value now available there soaring to £100 million. And in this time, the framework will run for 12 months and not the six as per the first iteration. This year-long contract will then become the standard, although it has been reported that this could be extended to 24 months in certain cases.