G-Cloud boss Chris Chant has responded to concerns raised by public sector supplier Proact over the new government cloud framework.
Proact UK's public sector divisional manager, Martin Thompson, wrote an open letter outlining why his company has chosen not to submit a response to the framework, which went live last week with 257 suppliers.
Today, this prompted Chris Chant to pen a direct response, tackling each of the integrator's concerns. The framework's goal of cutting red tape for suppliers and increasing agility were common themes throughout his responses.
Among Proact's concerns was the G-Cloud decision to use the standard defined by NIST for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), one of four lots in the framework alongside SaaS, PaaS and specialist cloud services.
Proact argued the NIST definition does not offer enough value to a typical public sector organisation, due to lack of skills and resource to manage operations and deliver new projects.
Chant agreed that IaaS, as defined by NIST, would not be sufficient for public sector needs in isolation, and said "that's why PaaS, SaaS and Specialist Cloud Services are included in the mix as well".
He added: "In summary, we chose to use the NIST definitions as we believe they are the most widely recognised and stable in this fast changing industry. The NIST definitions were used to determine whether suppliers were true cloud providers without resorting to lengthy detailed questions. One of the G-Cloud tenets is to reduce the amount of paperwork and questions involved in tendering. We hoped the NIST definitions would be a starting point for suppliers, not an end point."
Ts and Cs
Thompson also raised questions over the contract terms of the framework. This included the stipulation that service providers must "unreservedly and without caveat or limitations" accept the framework's Ts and Cs, which he said is not a model Proact could agree to without further discussion.
He also questioned the short duration of the contracts, arguing that renegotiating contracts every six months is "far too onerous" for all parties involved and would result in increased costs.
"A longer-term contract would also attract much more favourable rates. Surely cost savings have to be a priority for the public sector?" Thompson wrote.
Chant responded: "This was a key design decision for us – we wished to discourage long-term contracts. We believe that the IT industry is changing so fast (services improving, new ones being offered, prices changing etc.), that committing to a price point for longer than a year is not likely to result in best value being achieved."
The terms of the contract were in line with the OJEU's "open" procedure, added Chant, which would save both parties time and cost.
Thompson also argued that the framework's use of terms such as "burst/elastic resources", "guaranteed/non-guaranteed resources" and "persistent/non-persistent storage" are "not conducive to the type of model required by a public sector organisation". Public sector organisations need to deliver stringent SLAs to their users and they must ensure suppliers can stand up to the same SLAs to do this, he argued.
Chant responded: "This is true for some of the IT systems/services in use in the public sector, but certainly not all. Key to getting best value from IT (including achieving low cost) is making sure our requirements are aligned to our needs and that we have a diverse, competitive supply market to choose from."
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