The UK government has a target that 50% of IT spending will be on cloud services by 2015. Over the past two years a framework known as G-Cloud has been under development with the aim of providing a route for the easy procurement of IT services on a pay-as-you-use basis. A major step to meeting the government goals was achieved when they launched CloudStore recently.
CloudStore lists 1700 IT services from over 250 suppliers and this list will grow. The way the services are listed is based on the SPI model:
- Software as a Service
- Platform as a Service
- Infrastructure as a Service
There is a fourth category known as specialist cloud services, which are primarily companies that offer cloud computing consulting services. Each entry in CloudStore provides a description of the service and pricing details, providing a competitive environment where services can be compared, easily enabling the most effective solution to be chosen. What is great is that this marketplace is open to SME’s with 50% of organisations falling into this category. Previously, government IT supplies and contracts had been the preserve of large organisations with a lengthy procurement process resulting in long term contract lock-ins with expensive escape clauses–not always cost-efficient for government.
It is great to see the UK government take this new approach to IT procurement and I am confident it will be successful. If we now consider the larger G-Cloud strategy aims which are partly summarised as:
- Achieve large, cross government economies of scale
- Deliver ICT systems that are flexible and responsive to demand in order to support government policies and strategies
- Take advantage of new technologies in order to deliver faster business benefits and reduce cost
- Meet environmental and sustainability targets
- Allow government to procure in a way that encourages a dynamic and responsive supplier marketplace and supports emerging suppliers
If we take the word government out of the above goals, many of these could be equally applicable to all organisations whether business, charity, social, etc. It is just an effective way of buying IT at whatever level you are working. This is what cloud computing can do for business. At the moment, the uptake in cloud computing is significant but not at a critical mass level. This is totally understandable. Many organisations already have investments in IT that are currently sufficient, there is a concern about trust, security and reliability of cloud computing that can only be reduced through evidence built over years of success.
So in summary, the UK government has taken a significant step towards streamlining the IT procurement process through CloudStore. Their approach is a model that I believe can become more generally applicable for all buyers of IT services, that is a centralised directory of available services, enabling buyers to compare similar services on price as well as quality of service. If this evolves as expected, it will level the playing field for IT suppliers, enabling large and small organisations to compete equally and providing IT purchasers with a wider choice available at a better price with no long term contracts to negotiate.