A "revolution" in the way IT suppliers work with the public sector kicks off today with the unveiling of CloudStore, the online app store of the government's £60m G-Cloud framework.
Featuring 1,700 "off-the-shelf" IT services from 257 suppliers, CloudStore will be "quicker, easier, cheaper and more transparent for the public sector and suppliers alike," according to Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office.
Although the approved list features big names such as IBM, HP, Atos, BT and CSC, 50 per cent of those who made the grade are SMBs.
Computacenter, 2e2, Esteem Systems, Insight Direct, OCF, ONI, Probrand, Redstone Converged Solutions, Softcat, SCC, The Portal Partnership, Transputec and Trustmarque are among the resellers listed.
In a break from the government's traditional perceived bias towards giant IT suppliers, Maude said G-Cloud would give SMB suppliers the same opportunities as bigger organisations. CloudStore – which is itself hosted in the cloud on Microsoft Azure – is even built by a UK SMB, Solidsoft.
Maude added: "Using cloud solutions that have already been secured and accredited will almost always be less expensive, and we will only pay for what we use. We will also know from the outset the cost of the product and, importantly, the cost of exit from contracts that will be no longer than 12 months."
Cloud services offered through G-Cloud include email, word processing, system hosting, enterprise resource planning, electronic records management, customer relationship management or office productivity applications.
The government plans to re-open the framework to applications from new suppliers in the spring.
Trustmarque was among the successful bidders to issue a press release, revealing it would provide six service propositions over three of the four lots: IaaS, SaaS and Specialist Cloud Services (the fourth being PaaS).
Angelo Di Ventura, group sales and marketing director at Trustmarque, said G-Cloud would level the playing field for SMBs targeting public sector business.
"G-Cloud is far more open and accessible than previous frameworks and will deliver far better value to public sector buyers," he added.
Richard Davies, chief executive of ElasticHosts – another SMB to make the list – agreed: "Typically, government IT procurement has centred on a handful of large, very expensive vendors," he said. "Hopefully this catalogue will make it easier for different areas of the public sector to capitalise on innovative cloud computing services."
Insight claims it is one of only 16 - from the original list of 647 suppliers - to offer solutions in all four areas of the framework.
Guy Beaudin, public sector business development director at Insight UK, said: "With the broadest G-Cloud options available, we are looking forward to working closely with our public sector customers and helping them to make informed decisions when selecting cloud services."
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