After a Full-Year G Cloud Not Living up to Potential

Feb 21, 2013

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Last February the UK government launched G-Cloud, an ambitious new platform designed to consolidate all of the country's public sector IT services and hosting under a single cloud. And while the project has seen moderate success over the last year, G-Cloud has not lived up to its full potential. According to sources, G-Cloud has seen only about £6 million worth of deals come its way, mostly from the government's largest departments and a few local governments. However, the focus of the project was to provide hosting and managed services to all government agencies through small and medium-sized vendors. As it stands, most traditional vendors are still working through individual government departments rather than steering clients to the cloud. Both G-Cloud program director Denise McDonagh and Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell believe the slower-than-hoped-for adoption of the cloud is the result of an old mind-set that needs to be changed. Even as the UK government works to consolidate its data centres and do away with duplicate services, clients need to start thinking about the benefits of cloud computing in terms of cost effectiveness, efficiency and accessibility. McDonagh said in an official statement that encouraging adoption of G-Cloud “requires a culture shift for the public sector that won't happen overnight.” She asserts public sector IT managers need to embrace the idea of the cloud and set-aside the old paradigms. In his remarks, Huddle pointed out two significant things. First, he mentioned the need to encourage public sector entities to purchase their IT services using the government's CloudStore. Second, Huddle fears a failure by the government to adopt a new mind-set will allow larger vendors to come in and push G-Cloud away from its foundational goals. He acknowledges the G-Cloud's framework may not be enticing to larger, high-tech vendors because there isn't the same value as found in the private sector. Nevertheless, he believes the platform can thrive if the government adopts a top-down approach to pushing its use among the various departments.

The Public-Private Dilemma

While both McDonagh and Huddle have valid points, it would be beneficial to step back and look at the question from an economic perspective. The fact remains that the world of IT, cloud computing, and managed services is incredibly competitive. Perhaps part of the reason G-Cloud is struggling is an inability to recognise that competition. It is great to have the idealistic goals set forth when G-Cloud was first conceived. Those goals should be pursued as much is possible. However, the competition provided by vendors is a good tool to trim platforms like G-Cloud to avoid unnecessary bloat. Rather than keep larger, tech-oriented vendors off the field, G-Cloud officials might do better to welcome them in and accept their input. In the end, G-Cloud will only be as successful as the specialised services it provides the government agencies it is aimed at. If the platform cannot produce both results and value, officials will be hard-pressed to justify its widespread adoption.