The Stack Archive

Public sector left in the dark with G-Cloud

Tue 8 Apr 2014

UK councils and local authorities are almost totally ignoring the Government’s G-Cloud purchasing framework and going it alone according to a new survey.

Part of the explanation as to why 90% are doing their own thing may be that 76% of respondents don’t know what the G-Cloud framework is used for. These stark figures have emerged as a result of new research conducted by privately-owned managed data services provider Six Degrees Group which surveyed nearly 300 UK councils and local authorities.

G-Cloud, now in its fourth iteration since launch in 2012, is a framework designed to make it easier for public sector organisations to procure cloud-based services. It was reported towards the end of last year in a blog post from G-Cloud that the framework achieved record sales, with total sales reaching £78m. Despite this, however, the findings from Six Degrees Group highlight a significant lack of traction of G-Cloud services among the majority of its intended users – particularly at a local authority level.

As with any product or service, it’s not a case of ‘if you build it, they will come’ – effective communication and engagement of the target audience is essential if there is to be successful uptake and adoption. The other issue among those public sector workers who have heard about it, is that many of them think G-Cloud is a product. The fundamental message that it’s a procurement framework is not getting through.

Campbell Williams, group strategy and marketing director at Six Degrees Group, commented: “These statistics show there is a communication issue from central government. Cloud services have the potential to be revolutionary for the public sector and G-Gloud is a framework specifically intended to make sourcing these services simple. However, it’s clearly not doing its job for a huge number of councils and local authorities in the UK, which could otherwise be benefitting from the expenditure savings, innovations, agility and security of cloud computing.”

Williams added: “As a CESG accredited provider of IL2/3 cloud services, Six Degrees Group is committed to helping the public sector with cloud adoption and we’re disappointed that G-Cloud is still failing both customers and businesses alike. If those behind G-Cloud don’t educate the public sector soon, government procurement for IT will continue to be handled by the same old faces delivering the same poor outcomes for the taxpayer.”

Campbell highlights another aspect of G-Cloud that he believes the public sector must be made more aware. Contrary to popular belief, suppliers on G-Cloud have not been vetted in any way to ensure their solutions are certified as being safe and secure. The framework also makes the assumption that all cloud services are equal and one-size-fits-all, while allowing suppliers to put in unfeasibly low pricing. Campbell warns this just confuses buyers even more.

Despite Six Degrees Group’s findings, Campbell is optimistic about the potential G-Cloud can offer. When asked how he sees the framework maturing over the next five years, he comments: “It’s got the potential to be transformational for the civil service and for citizens, neither of whom wish to continue to buy from the same closed-shop of monolithic suppliers who deliver poor outcomes and bad value for money. But G-Cloud/Cloudstore is simply a procurement framework. Both suppliers and government need to help the public sector to understand how and where they can use cloud services, and introduce them to innovative SME providers who can help them, before G-Cloud can be considered a success.”

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