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A report published this week by the Major Projects Authority, part of the UK’s cabinet office, casts doubt over the future of the G-Cloud programme.

G-Cloud is currently struggling to gain cloud converts within UK government

G-Cloud is currently struggling to gain cloud converts within UK government

G-Cloud is the UK government’s framework for introducing cloud-based ICT services into government IT departments and streamlining IT procurement across, eventually, the entire group of public sector organisations. As part of the programme, the government introduced the cloud store, a digital marketplace for cloud services.

The Major Projects Authority (MPA) is charged with assessing the performance of expensive and important projects cumulatively worth over £353bn. The report also reveals that a number of major IT projects are at “risk of failure” and need urgent action.

The government has introduced a traffic-light style indication system, and the report says 8 of the 191 programs under review have been allocated a “Red” status.

Addressing the G-Cloud programme specifically, the report states that “the G-Cloud Programme has made considerable progress despite limited resources. The challenge now is to fundamentally change government IT buying behaviours and key to this is reshaping the programme to focus on the commercial aspects of the cloudstore as a retail proposition, improving the user experience and engaging the buying community. A commercial business case is being drafted to release funds and headcount to reach the ambitious cultural and financial objectives.” G-Cloud has been given an “Amber/Red” status, which means the programme is encountering significant challenges.

While no formal budget for the G-Cloud programme has been agreed, the original business case completed in 2011 suggested a budget of just under £5m. The UK government hasn’t published any figures related to sales projections so it is unclear how the financial successes of the programme (the CloudStore has generated £18m in sales) matches up with initial expectations. When Business Cloud News asked the press unit at the Cabinet Office about the figures, a spokesperson said the “only sales-related target we have set is for 50 per cent of new IT spend to be conducted through Cloud by December 2015.”

The issue is primarily cloud adoption within government more broadly. A Cabinet Office spokesperson commenting on G-Cloud in the wake of the MPA’s report said: “We believe that G-Cloud is a game-changer in this… But because the old costly and inefficient ways of doing things are so engrained, the transition to widespread purchasing of IT services as a commodity won’t happen overnight.”

To help drive the move to cloud purchasing, the UK government has mandated the central government to consider cloud solutions before any other option, which has to an extent helped drive cloud adoption within the public sector. But the government’s project is undoubtedly ambitious and vividly illustrates the significance of business process change within a rapidly evolving IT context. While the government continues to support the programme, it’s unclear how departments plan to address the gap.

“There is more to be done before G-Cloud is an accepted and routine way for the public sector to buy IT. We will continue to raise awareness, support public sector organisations in making the change, and make the buying process easier and clearer still,” the Cabinet Office spokesperson said.

Comments
  • John Glover May 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    This is an extremely fair appraisal of the situation. As someone recently said about the G-Cloud initiative “the train has left the station” which is true when you hear that other government’s globally are seeking to follow the UK’s lead. It’s just a shame that we seem to have leaves on the tracks and only a few paying passengers at this time.

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