G-Cloud Chief Concerned Over ‘Restictive’ EU Cloud Ideas


G-Cloud lead Denise McDonagh concerned about Brussels’ “old world thinking” on cloud computing

Head of the G-Cloud and director of IT for the Home Office Denise McDonagh today raised concerns about “restrictive” cloud computing ideas emanating from the European Commission.

McDonagh (pictured), speaking at the Salesforce Customer Company Tour event in London, told TechWeekEurope she was worried about ideas raised in Brussels over less public and more private government clouds.

The UK government’s efforts to embrace public cloud services as much as possible, gets a mixed reaction from Europe, because it has a different emphasis from the cloud strategy of European Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, who leads on  the Digital Agenda, McDonagh told a panel debate before talking with TechWeek.

G-Cloud vs. European Cloud

Denise-McDonagh-g-cloud“We’ve had many EU colleagues come over and see what we’re doing with G-Cloud and they are all very excited about it,” she said.

“But then we have what is happening in Brussels and there is probably a different emphasis on what Brussels are thinking on their [idea] of cloud, which possibly if you asked me… I would say is a bit more restrictive and I think is still a bit old-world thinking.

“We are working very closely with our Brussels colleagues to help influence… to see how we can come up with some sort of common thinking.”

McDonagh’s scepticism towards the European Commission’s cloud strategy, which was outlined in full last September, backs up what UK government deputy CIO Liam Maxwell said last year.

“The European Commission are offering to certify Cloud services so that only certain companies can pass the bar of being able to host things in the Cloud. We feel that is a tremendously retrograde step,” Maxwell said, according to a report in PublicTechnology.net.

He claimed the strategy would only benefit the big “oligopoly” IT vendors who have dominated public sector tech for years, whereas the G-Cloud was attempting to foster a different culture, where SMEs and all others were welcome.

The ultimate fear is that the EU cloud strategy, which includes a pan-European Cloud Partnership, as well as rules on standards and service level agreements, would undo much of the G-Cloud’s work to establish an open, public cloud-first framework.

The UK is going against the risk-focused ideals of Europe and embracing open ideas traditionally associated with the US.

Indeed, America and the UK are on the same side in opposing another major piece of IT legislation – the data privacy legislation created by  EC vice president Viviane Reding. Both are attempting to water down the proposals, which seek to establish a directive to guide national legislation and a regulation which will be entrenched in member nations’ laws.

The UK wants there to be only a directive, whilst the US is backing companies such as Facebook and Amazon, who fear overly-prescriptive rules, such as the “right to be forgotten”.

G-Cloud future

As for the success of the G-Cloud, it is still young, but has only seen £18 million of public sector IT deals pass through it, compared to the hundreds of billions spent on government IT every year.

The ultimate aim is to have 50 percent of new spending on IT across government done over the G-Cloud by 2015. McDonagh could not say whether the team would achieve that, although all the instruments are in place to do so.

The third iteration of G-Cloud is coming soon. McDonagh told TechWeek she hopes she can get as many providers as possible on board, including big cloud players like Amazon.

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