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Cloud ICT services now available to public sector organisations through online marketplace

20 February, 2012

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude announces that CloudStore, the online appstore of the Government’s G-Cloud framework for cloud-based ICT services, is open for business. 

CloudStore offers the public sector a cheaper, quicker and more transparent way to procure the services they need, including email, word processing, system hosting, enterprise resource planning, electronic records management, customer relationship management or office productivity applications.

The G-Cloud framework is set to revolutionise the purchasing, management and delivery of public sector IT services and the way suppliers work with government. Public sector organisations will be able to purchase “off-the-shelf” IT services from CloudStore on a “pay-as-you-go” basis rather than having to develop their own systems. This model means the government can use what it wants, when it wants it, and save money by avoiding duplication of services that cannot be shared.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “The launch of CloudStore is an important milestone in the Government’s ICT strategy to deliver savings and an IT system fit for the 21st century. Simply stated, purchasing services from CloudStore will be quicker, easier, cheaper and more transparent for the public sector and suppliers alike.”

CloudStore offers public sector bodies a range of the best industry IT services and solutions off the shelf. It provides the flexibility to change service provider easily without lengthy procurement and implementation cycles or being locked in to long contracts; and the freedom to quickly adopt solutions that are better value and more up to date.

For this first tranche of the G-Cloud service catalogue, the Government received bids from nearly 300 suppliers, offering a total of around 1,700 services, which are going through a process of assurance and accreditation.

To encourage competition and ensure transparency, service details and pricing information are open to all on CloudStore, allowing buyers to compare services and suppliers and make fully informed purchasing decisions; and contracts should be no longer than a year.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude added: “By creating a competitive marketplace, the G-Cloud framework will constantly encourage service providers to improve the quality and value of the solutions they offer, reducing the cost to taxpayers and suppliers. And it gives SME suppliers of niche products the same opportunities as bigger organisations supplying services.

“Using cloud solutions that have already been secured and accredited will almost always be less expensive, and we will only pay for what we use. We will also know from the outset the cost of the product and, importantly, the cost of exit from contracts that will be no longer than 12 months.”

For suppliers not yet on the G-Cloud, it is planned to re-open the framework to applications from new suppliers and products in the spring.

Writing on the Government Digital Service website, Chris Chant, Programme Director for the G-Cloud project at the Cabinet Office, said: “The change we are already making is a big one. It will affect the way government buys IT, who we buy it from, how we handle security, how we focus relentlessly on our customers and how all our employees work, not just those in IT. Every aspect of government and the public sector will be affected, thankfully, things will never be the same.”

Mark Gorman, Director, Public Sector for EMC in the United Kingdom, said: “We’re thrilled to have been chosen as a specialist cloud services provider as part of the G-Cloud programme. The ambition to separate the issue of infrastructure from applications will empower the Government to roll out innovations more quickly, at cost and energy requirements an order of magnitude lower than in the past. We look forward to working with departmental CIOs as we come to terms with a new world of public sector IT service delivery and a new model of supplier engagement – and together setting a new pace of innovation and project fulfilment.”

James Petter, Vice President and Managing Director of EMC in the United Kingdom and Ireland, commented: “Cloud innovation is vital to driving efficiencies in Government IT, but it also represents adramatic transformation in the way Government services could be delivered. The UK G-Cloud agenda paves the way for a seismic shift in the way citizens and businesses interact with Government, as the foundation of a new era of big,open data.”

Under the initial G-Cloud programme, a range of Compute-as-a-Service, Storage-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service products at differing security levels will be available from the Government’s CloudStore, due to launch this week. This represents a key milestone in the implementation of modern cloud services through the G-Cloud programme, which is a major component of the UK Government’s drive to deliver a more competitive marketplace designed to transform delivery of IT services into a flexible, efficient and scalable utility.

The emergency services

Bill McCluggage, advisory technology consultant at EMC (former deputy Government CIO), commented: “The availability of the Government’s CloudStore, which represents the first key component of the G-Cloud, marks the start of the redefinition of the way information services are delivered both inside public sector organizations and to the citizen. Notwithstanding the main advantage of efficiency that the G-Cloud is set to deliver, the main characteristics of scalability, agility and responsiveness will also enable the emergency services to build and deploy new applications knowing that they will be able to meet surges in use, and that they can be built in a fraction of the time it takes to commission current applications and at a fraction of the cost.

 “The public sector, and the emergency services are no exception, face the same challenges of how to maintain and improve service levels while dealing with reducing budgets and increasing data.  EMC understands these challenges and that the G-Cloud creates new opportunities for the emergency services to leverage the information they already hold, exploit information sources from other public sector service suppliers and merge information from new sources to deliver simple and more informed decision-making.  For example, rostering of emergency response teams and emergency management services that need to be established quickly and involve increased collaboration across functional areas can be delivered rapidly and more effectively; new data sources such as video and audio files can be included in reports and stored for rapid and secure access; safety campaigns can be targeted more effectively through analysis of the most vulnerable groups; and new citizen-facing applications can be developed that can be delivered in days rather than weeks or months.”

To enter the CloudStore, click here.

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