When the G-Cloud strategy was announced last year, it was amidst claims from the Treasury’s Operational Efficiency Programme that it could save the government £3.2bn of its annual £16bn IT budget by 2013/14.
The proposal remains on schedule to achieve this, largely by replacing the existing government network of department-hosted systems with a dozen dedicated secure data centres, and encouraging government departments to share resources.
However, the questions on the lips of everyone in the IT community, as the G-Cloud Project moves nearer to completion, are these: what impact is this going to have on us? Will it lead to poor quality and service inefficiencies? After all, it’s clear that many consider the government’s decision as to be a solution which sees the baby thrown out with the bathwater.
Perhaps, however, our collective glasses should be half-full and not half-empty as we look at the implications of the G-Cloud project? Although it’s true that the public sector sees the G-Cloud as a means of managing resources to cut spending, what’s perhaps less clear is that the plan also presents a real opportunity.
Indeed, the government intends, as part of the plan, to replace the current network of department-hosted systems with a dozen dedicated government secure data centres, costing £250m each. Meanwhile, the G-Cloud itself could well support a variety of functions, including everything from pooled application libraries to a communal email solution, and collaboration tools - but who is going to manage these new services?
The likes of Capgemini, Cisco, EMC and VMware have already entered into discussions with the government with a view to implementing IT infrastructure for G-Cloud services, and a real opportunity has arisen for providers of IT outsourcing to change the way public sector IT is managed.
Clearly, the G-Cloud will need to be constructed, then maintained, while software for all of its applications will need to be delivered. The way individual contracts to deliver these services are managed could present a real opportunity for suppliers in the coming years.
It’s important that those with a vested interest in public sector IT do not see the G-Cloud as a threat. By structuring resources in a secure, well-managed environment, designed to provide better value, and delivered by IT outsourcing experts, the G-Cloud represents a real opportunity to take public sector services into the 21st century.