The latest on the G-Cloud

G-Cloud is the strategy which aims to “provide a single access point for ICT services, applications and assets.” The internet based G-Cloud will host all public sector software, available from the Government Applications Store. The number of data centres will be dramatically reduced, and software will be shared between all departments. We previously examined the possible savings that the G-Cloud could bring to the public sector on our TomiLaw blog.

Although the ICT Strategy was a Labour initiative, the Coalition Government has embraced it. Bill McCluggage, Deputy Government CIO and Director of ICT Strategy and Policy, has confirmed that the Coalition Government is committed to the G-Cloud. This was reiterated by Tonino Ciuffini, Warwickshire County Council’s head of ICT, who also confirmed that a Government Applications Store prototype would be set up within the next 6 months.

Market analysis by research firm, Gartner, shows a shift from spending on data centre assets towards assets accessed in the G-Cloud. This is a great opportunity for IT service providers who are capable of implementing Cloud environments, and also for software suppliers trying to break into the public sector market by using the G-Cloud to host their products. Dave Coplin, Microsoft UK’s industry architect, has already suggested that the marrying of John Suffolk’s G-Cloud (as part of The Government CIO’s ICT strategy) with public Cloud offerings like Microsoft’s Azure platform into a hybrid structure would be a logical step to take.

Despite the positivity towards the G-Cloud, potential barriers to progress must not be ignored. In order for the G-Cloud to deliver cost savings, the culture and operation of the public sector will need to change. Departments will need to work together and share resources, rather than thinking of themselves as completely different entities dictated by separate budgets. The United States Federal Government is working alongside the UK in advancing government cloud computing. Therefore, the United States Chief Information Officers Council’s view that security and privacy are the biggest challenges for government clouds is likely to influence UK Government’s decision makers. This concern has been widely voiced, and will need to be addressed. In addition, the Cabinet Office has confirmed that it has no intention of breaking 5 or 10 year contracts with current service providers due to the financial penalties that would be incurred.