The government has launched its CloudStore, making 1,700 IT services available to public sector organisations via the cloud.
In keeping with the government's declared intention to use UK SMEs where possible, it has used Solidsoft to build the CloudStore, although the collection of services is hosted on Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform.
Eleanor Stewart, engagement manager for the G-Cloud programme, said that the initiative is expected to change the relationship between public sector IT suppliers and their customers.
"We hope that this site will help us to make the big step change in the way that suppliers and buyers do business on ICT services in the public sector," wrote Stewart on a government blog.
The government has also published a list of 257 suppliers on the store, ranging from smaller SMEs through to major companies like BT, Capgemini and IBM UK.
Among the SMEs is Huddle, a provider of secure cloud collaboration and storage services. Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell highlighted the cost savings that the framework agreement is likely to bring.
"The framework enables organisations to make the move from costly on-premise legacy ICT systems to innovative cloud-based technologies much faster and creates real competition in the government cloud services marketplace," he said.
"Securing government technology deals has long been an area dominated by integrators and technology goliaths and this framework has now levelled the playing field," added Mitchell.
However, Lynn Collier, senior director of Cloud, File and Content, at Hitachi Data Systems EMEA, whose firm is not on the supplier list, warned that the initiative raises questions about security and service level commitments.
"How is data being protected and what regulatory requirements does the use of public clouds expose an organisation to, and what level of predictability will an organisation have in regard to service level agreement compliance," asked Collier.
"In response to this, the public sector needs to carefully think about the approach to information management by portioning different types of data into confidential and non-confidential sets and to classify the service level agreement required in relation to availability, access and redundancy," she added.
The CloudStore lists its available products as including all flavours of cloud serivce, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It lists a final category as "Specialist services such as configuration, management and monitoring."