MoJ Director Says G-Cloud Is ‘Alive And Kicking’

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The G-Cloud is not dead, says the MoJ’s Martin Bellamy, and the government’s delivery strategy is on the way

The government has reaffirmed its commitment to the ‘G-Cloud,’ claiming that its cloud computing vision remains intact, and that progress is being made on delivery.

At a Westminster eForum in London today, Martin Bellamy, director of change and ICT at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), said that despite reports to the contrary, the G-Cloud was “alive and kicking,” and that the government’s cloud delivery strategy will be published next month.

Bellamy said that the government had considered the individual merits of private and public cloud, and decided to opt for a combination of the two, “embracing public cloud services where they fit,” and working with private cloud providers in some unique situations, where a high level of security is needed.

He highlighted a handful of projects that are currently underway, including the Alpha.gov website, which brings a multitude of online public services under one roof, and was constructed using cloud services in around 3 months. “We now have a commitment to go ahead with Beta.gov.uk, which will also be based on a cloud model,” he said.

Commoditisation and reuse

Bellamy (pictured) said that the “commoditisation” of ICT would be central to the government’s cloud strategy – in other words, making use of the ICT that is readily available, rather than creating a whole new business solution to solve every unique problem.

“We want to buy these services as we need them, to be able to flex up and down; we want to be able to do things once and share them across the community; and we want to get a mantra in place about reuse, because reuse is fundamental,” he said.

However, this is likely to be a complex process, as every government department has unique data held in unique formats, and operates internal systems to different technical architectures.

The G-Cloud delivery strategy will help to address this problem, as well as the cultural, procurement and service challenges of cloud adoption – which Bellamy claims are substantial. But he added that there may never be a better time to make the shift, given that the cloud is proven to deliver cost reductions and the government is under pressure to make savings.

“The cost reductions aren’t just about ICT provision, but also about the overall delivery of public services. That creates the catalyst,” he said.

The document will also review the government’s IT procurement processes, which have come under criticism for favouring large suppliers over small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). “We genuinely want to encourage cloud providers to work with governments. We want to encourage SMEs to come forward and be part of this,” said Bellamy.

Is the G-Cloud necessary?

The concept of a nationalised government cloud was introduced by the Labour government in December 2009, and was touted as a way to enable sharing and reuse of business apps, services and components across the public sector.

However, the G-Cloud strategy has been dismissed as unnecessary by David Wilde, CIO for Westminster City Council. When asked back in March whether the government’s concept of a nationalised cloud was a mistake for most government data, he responded: “Why have a nationalised one when there are so many privatised ones out there already?”

He went on to say that much of the central infrastructure is already outsourced to third parties, so the government is “already part way there in terms of commercial, almost-cloud-based services”.

A poll of eWEEK readers back in January revealed mixed attitudes to to the government’s cloud-based IT strategy, with roughly equal numbers of people predicting it will be an outright failure and an outright success.

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