What’s happening with the G-Cloud?

Do you remember the UK government’s G-Cloud initiative? Were you excited by the original plans to provide an on-demand and private cloud infrastructure for the public sector?

As recently as late 2009, the then government CIO John Suffolk was talking about how the administration was working with about 100 people in the IT industry. Suffolk expected the G-Cloud to come to fruition in early 2010.

Almost two years on, and despite the continued push of on-demand technology at the supplier level, talk about the G-Cloud has gone very quiet. Bold plans for G-Cloud infrastructure, middleware and software-as-a-service seem to have been diminished. So, what has happened?

The simple answer is not very much. Vision documents and strategy papers have been published but actual on-the-ground implementations remain scarce. The Cabinet Office suggests the programme is ongoing, which hardly sounds like an inspiring rallying call.

Still, the Cabinet Office also rightly suggests that cloud computing principles are evolving rapidly. Any IT director involved in analysing on-demand technology knows how quickly the cloud is developing and the government aims to incorporate such changes in its ongoing G-Cloud work.

It is also worth noting that such incorporation is extremely complicated in the modern era of IT-enabled transformation. Technology strategies can quickly become out-of-date, as seen with some of the problems encountered during the roll out of the challenging national programme for IT in the NHS.

The government’s recently released strategy paper suggests the G-Cloud will be implemented across a 10 year period from 2010 to 2020, via a number of phased programmes and projects.

Considering some of the concerns highlighted during the NHS programme, it is wise that the strategy also incorporates a series of key risks to implementation, including delay and disruption.

Encouragement can be found in the recent declaration of Ministry of Justice official Martin Bellamy, who suggests the G-Cloud is “alive and kicking”, he says successful pilot projects, including for cloud-based email, show how the cloud can work.

Bellamy rightly notes that changing the culture of civil service procurement is a substantial challenge, yet it is a barrier that must be overcome. The cloud is a flexible delivery method that will help the public sector to operate and transform cost-effectively. All interested parties must make the G-Cloud work. There is no other option.

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Dean Dickinson is Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions, formerly COA Solutions. Dean has been in the finance software business since 1990. He was part of the senior management team at QSP/Arelon prior to the acquisition by COA Solutions at which time he became Deputy Managing Director for the business as a whole. Since the acquisition of COA Solutions by Advanced Computer Software Group in February 2010, Dean has become Managing Director for Advanced Business Solutions. He is a specialist in consultancy and has a strong knowledge of business processes within a high volume/high value environment.