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Government Readies G-Cloud Marketplace ‘CloudStore’

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Potential cloud suppliers have been given another chance to join the government’s G-Cloud framework

The government is to yet again extend the deadline for those suppliers who wish to join its G-Cloud framewor = and  a posting on the G-Cloud website revealed that a “CloudStore” is on its way.

The idea of the CloudStore is that it will offer up to 1,700 cloud services from 600 suppliers and the Government is said to be currently accrediting these services. Whitehall and governmental bodies can then pick and choose what cloud services they require. The first first tranche of G-Cloud services are expected to be rolled out in February.

Service Catalogue

“The CloudStore will be the catalogue of services and suppliers on the G-Cloud Framework and we’ve been working on designing it for the past couple of weeks,” read the blog posting. “The aim is to make it into a type of “e-marketplace” which contains details of the services, accreditation levels and enable buyers to make comparisons between services to facilitate intelligent and efficient purchasing for buyers and suppliers.”

Essentially the CloudStore site will allow buyers to make comparisons between the various suppliers. Services will apparently be divided into four G-Cloud lots, namely:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Specialist Cloud Service

The G-Cloud developers also said they are currently working on developing the CloudStore front end, “making it straightforward to navigate alongside working with some of the user journey experts in GDS – Government Digital Service.

“We’re currently testing that what we’ve done makes sense and works and then we’ll be opening the store up for everyone to see, use and feedback on,” the site said.

Deadline Extension

And the G-Cloud website also revealed that suppliers have been given even more extra time to join the G-Cloud framework.

“If you missed out on the last round and want to submit your own company’s cloud-based services to be on the Government CloudStore, then fear not,” the blog said. “We are planning to re-open the framework for new suppliers and products in the next couple of months….so watch this space.”

It has already been a lengthy tender process. It was in October 2011 that the government Procurement Service placed a tender for G-Cloud services with the aim of creating a government marketplace of cloud services. The government said the response was “overwhelming” and the tender deadline was extended several times, stretching the submission process to the end of 2011.

And it seems that the names of which IT suppliers have joined the G-Cloud framework will (for now) remain unknown, at least until a two-week cooling off period passes, according to at least one media report.

Slow Arrival

It has taken a while to get to this point with the G-Cloud framework. Last summer there had been concern that the G-Cloud project had been abandoned and it was dismissed as ‘unnecessary’ by David Wilde, CIO for Westminster City Council earlier in 2011.

But by the Autumn it soon became clear that the project was very much alive and well and on 18 October the government published the G-Cloud framework tender process, saying that the duration of the framework would be only six to nine months.

The G-Cloud framework is worth up to £60 million and aims to provide government departments with ‘pay as you go’ IT systems. Because there are less stringent financial history reporting requirements and a more open procedure with a simple spreadsheet of yes or no answers to mandatory questions rather that a lengthy pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ), its appeal among SMEs is especially high.

The framework apparently asks suppliers what they can offer the government rather than dictating a complicated specification that stifles innovation, while services are provided on the supplier’s standard terms with a government overlay instead of demanding a unique crown contract.

This type of thinking is very much in line with the EU’s thoughts, as it is strongly pushing the open eGovernment services concept.