The CEO of Linux-based software solutions company LinuxIT, Peter Dawes-Huish, slammed the public sector G-Cloud system this week, likening the current service level to a military mission "with an entry route and no exit route" that is "not just dangerous, but suicide".
"Data lock-in and data opaqueness is as prevalent in cloud offerings as in any other delivery model," Dawes-Huish told the Westminster cloud computing eForum.
"If you move your applications and data to a cloud service in the proprietary model then you'll be held to ransom, and it doesn't matter how flexible your opportunity for moving, you're locked in."
Addressing an audience that included government CIO Andy Nelson, Dawes-Huish said that the government "may have created a choice of platform supplier, but you've [also] created dependence upon that software supplier.
"If government mandated that all systems purchased on the cloud conform to the same standards of data and software interoperability, then you'd get the benefits of cloud, but reduce the risk of making mistakes."
Dawes-Huish said he had heard comments from a lot of suppliers of public-sector solutions in the G-Cloud that were "at odds with" the positive noises Nelson had made about the service during the conference.
"I've often heard that [purchasing solutions] costs government between three and five times the cost of any single purchase in the commercial world, and I suspect G-Cloud will lead to the same conclusions," said Dawes-Huish.
He also said that "everyone is surprised that as a ‘non-framework framework', it's been surprisingly difficult to navigate the processes of getting signed up," on G-Cloud.
"Some pages don't work, some email addresses don't work. Some suppliers just haven't been able to get on, or having got on it, aren't able to place a catalogue of services," he said.
Dawes-Huish also highlighted legal concerns, saying that "some government departments indicate that using G-Cloud is illegal, or against government policy".
"If you go on G-Cloud, as it moves into its second year of its projected three-year life cycle," said Dawes-Huish, "you'll still find everything in beta."
While he maintained that G-Cloud "is a great opportunity for government", the service doesn't yet seem to "have the level of commitment" it requires to function long term. But an open market with standards and choice could change this, said the LinuxIT CEO.
"I would encourage Andy and his colleagues to ensure that the standards of choice are equally as important as the cloud process and the definition of moving to cloud," said Dawes-Huish.
Describing G-Cloud as "the latest government weapon", Dawes-Huish concluded by remarking that "when next year's weapon appears, and there is a better paradigm of service delivery that requires us moving from the cloud, all options will be available to us.
"It will be only then we can say mission accomplished," said Dawes-Huish.
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