Four years after the Government’s G-Cloud framework was launched and it has facilitated a number of transformations within public sector IT systems. Largely giving departments and organisations greater agility and flexibility in the services they use and projects they’re running. What’s more, compared to relying on legacy equipment and systems, the move to the cloud has also saved considerable amounts of taxpayer money.
In terms of numbers, there have been deals worth more than £1 million, thousands worth more than £100,000, and tens of thousands of individual transactions – demonstrating the sheer scale of demand that needs to be met in public sector IT.
The IT world is changing, however, the number of cloud services available has sky rocketed and G-Cloud is only set to grow. In fact, it’s becoming one of the most competitive marketplaces in any industry and, given the compliance and regulatory issues surrounding the public sector, its success will likely to dictate the vendors selected in other highly regulated industries such as finance.
In May 2013 the Cabinet Office issued a ‘cloud-first’ mandate, to encourage public sector departments to take the plunge with cloud. With clear support for the agility and flexibility gains of the cloud, it’s a problem that this mandate is being ignored by so many departments.
While, for some departments, there may be perfectly viable reasons to not use the G-Cloud, there are many others that are blindly sticking to old habits – and this should be challenged. A further criticism of the current G-Cloud system is that the current inefficiencies mean that IT departments are using the service to select the same supplier they would of chosen without the service – negating any benefit of having the G-Cloud framework. One way to rectify this is to allow vendors to collaborate with IT departments and talk about requirements of a project and how they can be met. If those within the public sector published what they needed, for example, a fairer competition would ensue in terms of selecting a supplier.
The cloud has transformed IT departments across the UK – and indeed the world – both in the private and public sphere. It has huge potential in terms of what it can offer both SMEs and those IT departments selecting suppliers and services. Like anything, however, it needs to evolve with the market and continue to reinvent itself to meet demand. In my opinion, the Government needs to convince more people to use it, make it more collaborative and ensure there is an efficient communication process to meet the demands of the future.