The G-Cloud has neither been renamed nor kicked into the long grass as some press reports have speculated over the past year or so. In fact, it is alive and well, with the government last week publishing a strategy that states that the UK will adopt a “public cloud first approach” to procurement with a view to saving as much as £340m between now and 2015.
Cabinet Office minister Frances Maude said in a statement: “Government will move away from expensive, long-duration bespoke solutions to a common approach – sharing resources and infrastructure to enable us to become a consumer of widely available, ever-improving mass-market products and solutions.”
The Government Cloud Strategy follows an Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) tender notice in October in which the government said it would spend £60m on establishing a framework for commodity cloud services.
Unlike the US, where the government aims to spend 25 per cent of its ICT budget on cloud services, the Cabinet Office has no specific spending target.
“The cost of the public cloud is so low that you might not need a quarter of government ICT spend to procure lots of services, you might only end up needing five per cent of the spend because it’s just so much cheaper than outsourcing or a private cloud,” said Chris Chant, the UK government director of the G-Cloud.
However, the government does have a sourcing target; to buy at least 50 per cent of its ICT resources from the public cloud by 2015. The year 2015 is also the target for the government to be accessing at least 50 per cent of its software from its own app store.
Despite these ambitious goals, the government is keen to retain some room for manoeuvre. According to Chant, the G-Cloud programme is an ongoing, iterative one, and nobody knows exactly how it will look in the long term.
“It is absolutely key at the moment that we do not lock ourselves contractually, technically, or from an integration point of view into any particular services, suppliers or model,” he said.
The cloud-first strategy will be spearheaded by a G-Cloud Delivery Board, which comprises a cloud services group, a security working group, a commercial working group and a datacentre consolidation project board. The delivery board will work alongside a G-Cloud Authority, which will oversee the longer term take up and assurance of commodity services. Both the board and the authority will be answerable to the government’s CIO Delivery Board.