Think G-Cloud: McDonagh's deliberations

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan June 23, 2013
The Think G-Cloud conference in London last week was the last public outing of Denise McDonagh as G-Cloud Programme Director. She took the chance to look back at achievements to date for the UK public sector's national cloud computing strategy.


As Dennis Howlett has noted elsewhere, the diginomica team was out in force at last week's Think G-Cloud event in London - where we were pleased to be the media partner to the event's organisers, Eventcentre UK.

While this event was firmly hooked around the UK national cloud computing strategy, the learnings from the event clearly reached beyond national borders - especially when the dreaded word PRISM crept into the conversation a few times.

Reflecting the increasing global interest in cloud across the public sector, the next conference - in March 2014 - will be retitled as Think Cloud for Government, opening up to content and debate from around the globe. Again  diginomica will be partnering with Eventcentre to assist in delivering a top quality event.

In the meantime, some reflections on last week's UK-centric event, one of the highlights of which was undoubtedly the 'valedictory' speech by outgoing G-Cloud programme director Denise McDonagh who looked back on the progress of the past year or so and forward to the future of public sector cloud.

Among her observations:

On working in an austerity regime 

“The UK public sector is facing huge, complex, interdepartmental challenge and again, we are still facing austerity. I believe that G-Cloud, from an IT enabling perspective, is one of those radical things that help departments and organisations save significant amounts of money.

But for me, it is not just about the savings. It is about doing things much better. It is about being far more efficient, doing things much quicker than we currently do and looking at delivering services from a customer perspective."

On the need to take risks on both buy and sell side

"I am bedevilled by central government's processes. There isn't a willingness to understand that we do things differently. We have challenges but in the public sector we have the ability to think for ourselves, to take control and do things differently. We need to have confidence in ourselves and take risks.

"We need to think more about Cloud - we have a Cloud First policy. [Departments] have to put in a Cloud plan and if they can't demonstrate why they can't use it, then they won't get approval," she says.

“Suppliers took a risk to come onto this framework, now we need to think about the risks we are prepared to take in order to deliver not only the savings, but the much improved service to the customer."

"[G-Cloud] has had some criticism from people who’ve wanted their t’s crossed and i’s dotted before they want to move something new, and that’s something in the style of the public service, a risk averseness. get a lot of feedback from public sector and they’re uncertain about how to use the cloud."

“It’s about experimenting and using services, because the beauty of G-Cloud is that you’re not locked into it as you would have been with your previous guys – you can get things on trial and try them out,” she says.

"They have to think more seriously about G-Cloud. People will be expected to make cloud adoption plans in central government. G-Cloud is not the root of everything, but you do have to at least test it first."

On reaching a tipping point

“We now have over 800 suppliers and 7,000 services [available on the G-Cloud]. I think we are getting message out about changing the way we buy and deliver services.

"But I think we have come to that point where we have tipped over the edge that this is the way we that people will start thinking about how they do business going forward.

"I think we’ve got to the point where we’ll never go back to the old way of doing things."


Job well done!



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