Government Adopts Cloud First Strategy As G-Cloud 3 Goes Live


There’s no Amazon or Google on G-Cloud, but Big Data crime fighter Palantir is

The UK government has made a pledge to take a real “Cloud First” approach to IT, as the third iteration of the G-Cloud has gone live.

When procuring services, government organisations have been told to look at the G-Cloud first before considering other options. This is mandated for central government and recommended for other public sector bodies.

G-Cloud 3 arrives

Denise-McDonagh-g-cloudAs for G-Cloud 3, it now has 708 suppliers, with around 83 percent of them SMEs, according to the Cabinet Office. The government is hoping to end the days of oligopoly dominance of public sector IT, where a handful of large suppliers won most of the contracts.

As of March 2013, £18.2 million of government IT spend had gone through the G-Cloud. The aim is to have 50 percent of IT spend go through the framework by 2015. The cap on deals of £100 million has increased to £200 million.

“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,” said Denise McDonagh (pictured), G-Cloud programme director and IT director of the Home Office.

“Today’s launch of an expanded G-Cloud framework, with more companies offering an even greater range of products and services, will only enhance the cost and innovation benefits of a more competitive marketplace.”

Yet Amazon and Google, two of the biggest cloud companies in the world, who TechWeekEurope learned last year had expressed interest in the previous G-Cloud framework, remain absent. That’s despite previous claims from McDonagh that she expected Amazon to appear on the G-Cloud.

Asked about the two tech titans’ absence, a Cabinet Office spokesperson told TechWeek in an emailed statement: “G-Cloud procurements have proved very successful, providing a wide range of suppliers and services for the public sector to buy and use. At the end of the day, it is a supplier’s decision whether they choose to tender.”

Data crunching crime fighters hit G-Cloud

There are some very interesting new entrants to the G-Cloud, however. In particular, Palantir Technologies, which does Big Data and is a major supplier to law enforcement and intelligence communities.

Palantir has previously worked with the FBI and CIA, providing services to crunch data to determine where threats are coming from and solve crimes. It collates and then organises publicly available data, and other data sets, to make connections between people, places and events. It started out of the US in the 2000s, but is now hitting Europe.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young and Thomson Reuters are also new to the G-Cloud, hinting at a more services-led strand to the framework.

Keep the big boys away?

Not all are convinced massive players like Amazon and Google have a place on the G-Cloud. Huddle CEO, Alastair Mitchell, said the focus of the framework should be to stick to specialised players rather than mammoth suppliers covering numerous services.

“It’s also important that the government stays focused on a small number of highly specialized true cloud services that have strived to bring cloud benefits – agility, scalability, flexibility and efficiency – to the public sector from the start,” he told TechWeek.

“Widening the G-Cloud’s remit could result in fragmentation, stifle innovation, and prompt government bodies to shun true cloud services. Give people the option to select large integrators and suppliers and the danger is they’ll revert to what they know.”

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