UK government strengthens cloud services

Shahida Sweeney| Futuregov

The UK Government Digital Services (GDS) has officially launched the “fourth iteration” of its cloud procurement strategy. This update supports a more simplified procurement regime – while building a 21st century platform for cloud services.

A G-Cloud 4 framework, just unveiled by the GDS, strengthens the UK government’s on-line procurement effort. This initiative is fully redesigning the way agencies will source products and services in the cloud.

The UK government spends an estimated £45 billion on goods and services. This offers agencies much-needed leverage to access and negotiate services in the cloud, in an open and competitive marketplace.

Access to CloudStore

An on-line Cloudstore offers the details about registered G-Cloud suppliers and their services.

In all, there are 708 companies on the new framework. Of these, more than 80 per cent are small-to-medium enterprise. Another 368 firms are new to G-Cloud.

Supplier details incorporate information about public, private and hybrid platforms. These include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Specialist Cloud Services (SCS).

Cloud First policy

Early this year, the UK government embraced a “Cloud First” policy for public sector IT. This strategy requires agencies to firstly consider the cloud when buying goods and services. This policy supports a wider adoption of cloud computing.

Among the reforms, central agencies must develop cloud transition plans. These plans incorporate a pipeline, detailing how and when they will shift each aspect of their IT portfolio to the cloud.

Agencies must also review and revise IT portfolios to take full advantage of cloud offerings. Discounted cloud solutions are to be considered before exploring other options.

Cloud policies have to be openly shared with the public sector. This information sharing helps build a reference library of “good practice.”

Many government departments already use G-Cloud, but IT costs still remain high. Officials say one way to reduce these costs is by accelerating the adoption of cloud services. In 2011-2012, IT reforms and spending controls saved UK taxpayers nearly £316 million.

Friction-free access

G-Cloud offers a “friction-free” commissioning point for government IT services. It also marks a move away from relying on an “oligopoly of large suppliers and lock-ins to long contracts.”

The UK government is reviewing its IT governance arrangements. This involves creating more agile structures that streamline service delivery. It also factors in a cloud-based commissioning of commoditised IT services.

By 2020, cloud augmented shared services are expected to be fully consolidated. Shared services support cheaper and quicker procurement of IT for the public sector.

More self service activities are now available online, reducing the costs of shared service centres. This platform fully aligns with the concept of delivering a government cloud Shared services (GDS).

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