Government encourages 'cloud-first' strategy against backdrop of G-cloud iii launch

Cloud should be first port of call from now on, according to Cabinet Office.

Government departments will have to look at cloud options first before opting to use other technologies under a new 'public cloud-first' strategy unveiled today by the Cabinet Office. 

When procuring new or existing services, public sector organisations "should consider and fully evaluate potential Cloud solutions first before they consider any other option," it claimed in a statement. 

Off-the-shelf products from the Cloud can be up to 30 per cent of the cost of bespoke solutions.

This approach is mandated to central government and strongly recommended to the wider public sector, it added.

Francis Maud, Minister for the Cabinet Office, which oversees the G-Cloud programme, said: "G-Cloud rings a step change in the way government buys IT. It's quicker, cheaper and more competitive, open to a wider range of companies, including a majority of SMEs, and offers more choice and innovation."

"Many government departments already use G-Cloud, but IT costs are still too high. One way we can reduce them is to accelerate the adoption of Cloud across the public sector to maximise its benefits.The Cloud First policy will embed the skills a modern civil service needs to meet the demands of 21st-century digital government and help us get ahead in the global race."

The policy, first mentioned by G-Cloud's head Denise McDonagh in March, has been announced at the same time as the third iteration of the office's G-Cloud procurement framework goes live.

G-Cloud iii (Giii) was announced in January and originally due to go live at the end of March, however it was subject to a series of setbacks, with the standstill period eventually commencing on 22 April and ending seven days later.

A total of 368 new suppliers have been added to Giii, as well as 340 returning suppliers who were on the previous iteration, G-Cloud ii (Gii). According to the Cabinet Office, 80 per cent of these 708 total suppliers are SMBs.

McDonagh said: "Off-the-shelf products from the cloud can be up to 30 per cent of the cost of bespoke solutions. Today's launch of an expanded G-Cloud framework, with more companies offering an even greater range of products and services, will only enhance the cost and innovation benefits of a more competitive marketplace." 

Alastair Mitchell, CEO of cloud collaboration services provider Huddle, told IT Pro's sister title Cloud Pro he welcomed the introduction of the cloud first policy.  

"Pushing the cloud from the top down will help ensure that we don't get left behind when it comes to widespread cloud adoption in government. But, what I would like to see in the future is this mandate expanded to cover all public sector organisations,"he said.

"It's also important that the government stays focused on a small number of highly specialised true cloud services that have strived to bring cloud benefits agility, scalability, flexibility and efficiency to the public sector from the start. Widening the G-Cloud's remit could result in fragmentation, stifle innovation, and prompt government bodies to shun true cloud services." 

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