The UK Government Procurement Agency has short-listed Content Guru as a potential supplier of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and Specialist Cloud Services for the “G-Cloud” framework agreement.
The project takes inspiration from highly successful consumer cloud platforms (e.g. Facebook), as well as enterprise equivalents (e.g. salesforce.com). G-Cloud will provide a platform for government organisations to share applications and best practices.
Between 2012 and 2015, the UK Government hopes to realise savings of £180 million through the re-use of applications in a centralised Application Store, as well as £160 million through data centre consolidation. A catalogue of services and suppliers will enable buyers to make clear comparisons to facilitate purchasing decisions.
The leading technology research firm Gartner positions ‘Government Cloud’ at the peak of inflated expectations in their “Hype Cycle for Government Transformation”, citing the potential for 15-20% reduction in total IT operating costs through ‘shared services’ and ‘consolidation’.
However, in the longer-term, the analysts highlight the opportunities for “consistent productivity improvements”, greater “customer focus” and elimination of “redundant hardware, software and business processes.”
Sean Taylor, Director of Content Guru, comments on the challenges the project faces:
“Government organisations all have their own local priorities, which they are unwilling to compromise – and rightly so. In order to get these organisations to work together more efficiently, G-Cloud will have to provide the central platform that will help to rationalise cost-bases, while still retaining the individual sovereignty of each participating organisation.
Sean continues, “Nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of communications. How citizens communicate with the organisation, how colleagues within the organisation communicate with each other, and how different organisations communicate, affects every aspect of public service delivery.
“Even if different organisations do share common characteristics, it is unlikely that all the stakeholders will embrace integration willingly. Therefore the success of a G-Cloud communications platform will hinge on the ability to customise services for local requirements.
“Greater integration may follow in due course as a consequence of different organisations working more closely together, as sharing the same technology will tend towards the convergence of business processes. But in the first instance, organisations will need to have the choice to migrate at their own pace.”
Last month, Liam Maxwell, the Cabinet Office's director of ICT futures, told the Cloud Expo in London that government contracts for cloud services will move away from the traditional model of long-term tie-ins, with new contractual agreements being signed after brief consultation and lasting as little as 12 months. He predicted that these services will soon be purchased in much the same way as a high-turnover commodity like office stationery.