It would be fair to say that G-Cloud, the initiative launched by the UK government in 2012 to help public sector bodies gain access to cloud services, has had mixed results since its implementation.
Although the service has attracted a large number of suppliers (1,518 as of March 2014), with 60 per cent of sales going to SMEs, the G-Cloud could be much more widely adopted. In fact, many local councils are ignoring the service altogether.
The UK government will of course be disappointed by this, especially considering the scheme has the potential to reduce the public sector IT bill by £120 million a year. However, the G-Cloud could still have plenty to offer businesses, particularly if they can avoid the bureaucracy that is so often associated with the public sector.
In the past, there have been numerous reports of businesses struggling to get accepted as a supplier to the G-Cloud’s Digital Marketplace. In fact, firms can even be credited as a supplier, but then separately have to apply for one of its cloud services to gain public sector authorisation. Companies have had to wait as long as nine months to gain the required security accreditation from the UK government. The Pan Government Accreditation Service assesses all cloud products for confidentiality, integrity and availability of information before ultimately granting approval.
Although officials have claimed they are reducing the bureaucratic red tape surrounding the G-Cloud service, it is believed to be one of the reasons why many local councils are continuing to use traditional hardware and software packages from industry heavyweights like IBM and Microsoft.
International cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services are also believed to have some concerns about joining the G-Cloud platform, as they then may be subject to a UK government audit.
In order to address business concerns surrounding the public sector, the UK government must try to change perceptions of the G-Cloud. The service needs to be explained with more clarity to IT purchasers in order to convince them to make the transition to cloud services, particularly when it comes to long-held concerns, such as security.
The UK government needs to better publicise the robust security criteria that all suppliers need to meet, in order to get purchasers on board. This will also help continue the government focus on driving more public sector money through SMEs.
In order to get the most out of G-Cloud, businesses also need to make sure that they are fully aware of the service’s regulations before applying for accreditation. Service providers, like cloud-based collaboration service Huddle, have seen the G-Cloud become a “huge growth area,” but companies must be aware of public sector needs in order to avoid lengthy and unnecessary delays.
Industry experts, thought leaders and peers will discuss the latest cloud services and how they relate to the public sector at this year’s UC Expo, taking place on the 21-22 April at Olympia, London.