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G-Cloud has been running for over 6 months now and, with the project currently making news headlines and with SkyDox as a fully accredited G-Cloud member, I thought now would be as good a time as ever to delve a little deeper into the G-Cloud initiative. Within the SkyDox team alone, there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what G-Cloud actually is and, as manager of our catalogue page (which can be found here), I have gained some valuable insight that I wanted to share.
So what exactly is G-Cloud? The G-Cloud program is part of the government’s ICT strategy to grow cloud services into government departments, local authorities, and the wider public sector. The catalogue itself is a collection of over 250 companies supplying cloud infrastructures, services, and applications that can be selected on a pay-as-you-go basis (rather than having to pay a large upfront fee). A key focus of G-Cloud is to provide opportunities to smaller ICT providers. Through the structure of the procurement process, it is simple and inexpensive; G-Cloud wanted to attract SMEs like SkyDox to be a part of the program. And it has worked! The initial hope was that 25% of contracts would be awarded to SMEs, but the latest figures show that 75% of the contracts have gone to SMEs.
Experts predict that by 2015, 80% of government departments could be using various aspects of G-Cloud to obtain cloud-based technologies. Recently, however, the project has been heavily criticized in the news with claims that the programme is not working. In April and May of this year £555,800 and £460,000 was spent in the CloudStore, but the latest figures for July, show only £98,000 of sales. Organizations have looked at these stats and claimed that because of the steady decline from April to May and then the sharp drop in July, the initiative will fail. To make the July sales worse, the CloudStore also suffered ‘a technical glitch’ at the end of last month which left cloud shoppers unable to purchase. After a lot of negative press, Denise McDonagh, G-Cloud’s programme director, has hit back at the headlines with her latest blog entitled ‘A Rebuttal.’ Within the blog McDonagh insists that she is happy with the progress of G-Cloud. She explains that, with over £1 million purchases have been made through the system, the goal of securing sales for SMEs has been reached. She also says that the entire program is still new and developing, so glitches are inevitable. With this in mind and despite recent headlines, my outlook on the G-Cloud project is still optimistic. Like cloud technology itself, the initiative itself is young. Both vendors and suppliers alike are waiting and watching to see if the plan works, and there is a lot of room for development with the implementation of the next phases of G-Cloud. I see a lot of potential for the future of the project.
Despite recent headlines, the G-Cloud team estimate that the transition of government ICT systems to the cloud could save up to £120 million by 2014/15. This is particularly important since the coalition government is setting out comprehensive spending cuts of 20%. But how can these cloud services save the public sector so much money? The SkyDox platform is a great example of just how a cloud-enabled platform can save the public sector this money. The cloud-enabled platform allows public sector users to securely share and collaborate on files, both internally and – just as importantly – externally, with their vast array of suppliers, partners, service users, and other departments, all without incurring any additional costs. The simple and intuitive user interface means that government employees will be more willing to adopt the system and the cost of training time is minimized. Collaboration between partners also immediately improves as employees are able to securely access their documents on any device with a web browser, including tablets and smartphones. To put it even more simply, the SkyDox infrastructure provides an environment that will drive the work force efficiency and productivity upward and that will drive the total cost downward. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a crucial element within this because the ability to be a flexible and mobile worker is paramount to the public sector workforce.
We embarked on the G-Cloud journey a few months ago as the application of Gii – the second stage of G-Cloud – was coming into play, and I must admit it took me a while to get my head around it. Because the technology is for the highly sensitive public sector, a full analysis of each company is required and the application process is a thorough one. There were a number of hoops to jump through; however with the end goal of supplying a cloud infrastructure to the public sector, we knew these were necessary steps to ensure we could deliver on our promise.
Today SkyDox works with over 17 local government authorities and 60% of the NHS trusts in England as well as numerous government departments and associated service organization. Being part of the G-Cloud has provided SkyDox with a steady stream of inbound enquires and as more government organisations look for a secure file sharing and collaboration platform, SkyDox is only gaining further interest. To this day we have won many customers through the G Cloud and as the catalogue itself gains momentum, this is only likely to increase.