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EuroCloud enlists former GDS insiders to launch G-Cloud manifesto

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez October 15, 2014
The cloud computing industry group has called on vendors and government to work much closer together to ensure the future success of the framework.

Cloud computing industry advocate EuroCloud UK has launched a seven point manifesto that calls on vendors and government to work much closer

together to ensure the future success of the G-Cloud framework.

The manifesto addresses a number of concerns that have been raised in recent months regarding the future direction of the G-Cloud and aims to provide the Government Digital Service (GDS) with some industry insight into what is needed to help the programme evolve.

It has also been developed with the help of two former members of the G-Cloud team, which should help to give it some extra gravitas. During their time in Whitehall, Dave Denton and Peter Middleton helped form the G-Cloud programme and promote its benefits to buyers and suppliers across the public sector.

The pair have now taken a co-shared seat on EuroCloud UK's 12-member executive board and will head up a working group drawn from the UK membership of more than 60 cloud industry businesses. A third of EuroCloud UK's members currently participate in G-Cloud, with many more planning to join the framework upon its sixth iteration.

For those of you unaware, the G-Cloud was launched back in 2012 as a simpler way for government departments to buy commodity IT and services in the cloud. The framework is meant to provide a list of products and services that is easily searchable and comparable, giving buyers the power to transparently find the right tools they need.

To date, the UK public sector has spent over £270 million via the framework and it is estimated that this has saved government an equivalent amount.

However, there has been some growing concern in recent months about the future direction of the programme and many have questioned how GDS plans to raise the profile of the initiative (there is still a significant lack of awareness, especially amongst local government). You can read our special two-part report on these challenges here.

I also recently put together an action plan of my own of what needs to be done to cement the G-Cloud in government, following a EuroCloud UK meeting, and some of the points raised fit nicely with those addressed in the manifesto.

EuroCloud UK's G-Cloud Manifesto

The seven-point manifesto calls for the following:

  1. Ongoing commitment to G-Cloud from the Cabinet Office and Crown Commercial Service as a way of enhancing public sector IT procurement and delivering proven benefits of cloud adoption including cost savings, rapid deployment, greater choice and agility.
  2. Vendors and buyers to publicly share best practices and celebrate success stories.
  3. A more aggressive programme of resources and education for public sector buyers demonstrating how to maximise the benefits of using the framework and drive the transition to cloud computing services. Government must take the lead but should actively enlist the help and support of the industry.
  4. Industry to work with government to develop and provide much-needed resources and education for vendors on how to be productive and successful as a G-Cloud supplier.
  5. Greater collaboration among vendors and with public sector buyers to fill gaps in market needs through enhanced and improved G-Cloud offerings, including development of innovative new services.
  6. Open dialogue with the Government Digital Service and Crown Commercial Service to ensure the framework iteratively improves, taking account of industry and buyer needs and feedback on its operation through the Digital Marketplace.
  7. Promoting and adapting best practices and products developed for G-Cloud to the private sector business market.

Dave Denton and Peter Middleton said that they hope that their experience within Whitehall will help bring valuable suppliers to the doors of the Government Digital Service. They said:

We’re delighted to be able to take up this role with EuroCloud to galvanise industry support, education and collaboration to build on the success G-Cloud has already achieved. Our aim is to use the invaluable insights and first-hand experience we’ve gained from two years of working in the G-Cloud programme to help the industry to positively influence how G-Cloud evolves and grows as it moves forward into the future.

The public sector needs suppliers who understand the vision and principles that support G-Cloud and who can gain the confidence of buyers. Cloud based IaaS, PaaS and SaaS suppliers can make a huge contribution to help achieve greater value for money and deliver better public services.

My Take

EuroCloud is the first pan-European network of cloud vendors and industry experts, with a presence today in more than 24 countries, bringing together those engaged in cloud business activity to share best practice and build the profile of the industry. With this profile and reach it is perfectly positioned to help guide the future direction of the G-Cloud programme - and hopefully this manifesto will spark an open dialogue between industry and government.

One of the biggest criticisms of the G-Cloud is that those involved aren't engaging enough with the broader IT industry, which IS important if GDS wants to make sure it fully understands how departments and suppliers could/should interact with each other. This doesn't mean giving away control, it means having an open dialogue.

The government has drawn a hard line with suppliers in recent years and many have been left disgruntled. But at the end of the day, the public sector isn't going to be able to build everything on its own and it will have to work with suppliers to provide modern services – but positive engagement with those that

'get it' is better than being at war with those that don't.

One of the other important points in the manifesto is that of education and knowledge sharing. All of the parties involved need to figure our best practice – that's best practice for buyers, as well as suppliers. Departments need to understand how to best use the G-Cloud and make the most of the framework, whilst suppliers need to understand how to sell the most it can when listed (if a supplier isn't selling, it isn't going to be interested).

Let's make those conversations happen...

Disclosure: Phil Wainwright, one of the founders and editors at diginomica, is also the current Chair of EuroCloud UK.

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