A G-Cloud representative has urged more government bodies to buy into its vision of ensuring half of new public sector IT spend is on cloud-based services by 2015.
Speaking at CRN's Channel Conference yesterday, Eleanor Stewart, engagement manager for the public sector cloud services framework, revealed that £2m of invoiced sales have been conducted through the G-Cloud's CloudStore catalogue since it was launched in February.
Contracted business stands at about £5m, she added.
Business has been in line with expectations, but Stewart conceded that many public sector bodies – particularly large central government departments that operate as their own "fiefdoms" – have so far shunned its services.
"The challenge for the programme is to push on the buying side and get people comfortable with this, because it is a big culture change," Stewart said. "People are scared of it, frankly."
G-Cloud was dreamed up last November as an antidote to the culture of long-term contracts with big suppliers that had led to huge wastage in Whitehall and across the public sector.
Some 280 suppliers currently offer 1,700 separate IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and other cloud services through CloudStore, which public sector bodies – as well as private companies – can use to procure services in as little as six minutes, said Stewart. Seventy-four per cent of suppliers, which include the likes of Computacenter, SCC, Trustmarque and Softcat, are SMBs.
The supplier base will rise to about 500 when framework agreements for G-Cloud II are handed out on 26 October, she added.
In response to complaints from public sector customers, the second iteration of the programme allows for contracts of up to 24, months rather than 12; a higher maximum contract value; and has new and improved terms and conditions.
A third iteration will be out before Christmas, Stewart promised, with rolling updates every two months scheduled thereafter.
Stop the wastage
Pre-G-Cloud, about 80 per cent of government IT spend was controlled by an elite band of six IT services giants, Stewart said.
"They were charging quite high rates for simple things, for instance £1,000 to change one word on a form on a website, which is quite excessive," she explained. "But it was also very difficult to use new technologies, as we were tied into very large contracts which ran for five or seven years."
She added that the wastage equates to funding for three million secondary school pupils per year, or 62 million overnight stays in a hospital.
G-Cloud was designed to obliterate this culture of profligacy by enabling the government to buy cheaper, short-term cloud services off the peg and engage more with fleet-of-foot SMBs.
But she likened changing the government's longstanding procurement patterns to "turning an oil tanker on a two-pence coin".
"I understand [why people are scared] because it removes the control from the IT or procurement specialist and puts it back on to the deliverer or services manager," she said. "The service manager is often hitting a barrier when they get to the procurement or IT person. A lot of our effort right now is on unlocking those barriers."
A lot of G-Cloud sales so far have concerned new technologies such as collaboration and social media, Stewart revealed, with Huddle among the more successful suppliers.
"Some of the core infrastructure [services] are coming through around hosting," she added. "We have not seen very many platform-type [services] being sold yet."
"There has been a lot more usage in local than central government," she added. "[This is due to] a combination of big government departments being their own fiefdoms and not wanting to be told what to do, and local government feeling the financial squeeze."
G-Cloud is also pushing suppliers to gain a pan-government security accreditation for their G-Cloud services, which will allow them to be re-used by different government bodies.
Stewart revealed that just 13 services had achieved this accreditation so far due to the complexity of the process.
"It has taken longer than we would have liked to get things through the accreditation sausage machine but the target is 50 [services] by the end of the year," she said. "We have had four people working on it full time but it has taken time to push through."
Stewart remained tight-lipped on when the next version of the CloudStore catalogue – which has come under fire from some suppliers – will be.
"The idea is that it develops into something bigger and more integrated so we are working with Government Procurement Services to make something better," she said.
G-Cloud recorded £434,000 of invoiced sales in August, compared with £424,000 in July, £471,000 in June, £163,000 in May and £556,000 in April, according to its website. Stewart said she expected volumes to rise as more legacy contracts come to an end.
G-Cloud, alongside a separate initiative to review a hosting contract, is designed to save the public sector £340m by 2015, Stewart said.
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