First ‘G-Cloud’ companies announced

A great variety of companies have recently won contracts to provide the public sector with their computing services.

The government have been working on the G-Cloud, which is their cloud computing solution.

It is estimated that over 250 suppliers have been named as working with the government and this includes both large and small companies. Some of the biggest names to become involved with the government are Microsoft, BT and Logica.

It is estimated that around half of the suppliers that are involved are classified as small or medium-sized enterprises. The Cloud store service is going to allow organisations in the public sector to purchase IT services and it has been developed by SolidSoft, itself a small business and is based on the system by Microsoft, Windows Azure.

The government are keen to promote transparency about spending and all of the pricing details are available on the service. The government have also said that no services will be purchased for longer than one year without review.

The Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude has stated, “The new services are going to allow government agencies to purchase services in a cheaper, easier and quicker way. Furthermore it is going to make government spending more transparent for both suppliers as well as the public. The great thing about the CloudStore is that it gives the same opportunities to small and large organisations. It is my hope that this will improve the number of contracts that are awarded to small companies by the government.”

A recent report showed that just over 10 percent of contracts given by the government are awarded to small companies, which is less than half of the government’s target figure of 25 percent. The head of the small enterprise HTK, Justin Bowser, has described the new services being a game changer.

Mr Bowser commented, “It is generally very hard for small or medium-sized companies to get government contracts. Many people perceive the barriers to achieving a contract as being incredibly high. Furthermore the government often fear that small companies will not be able to deliver the results they want.

The G-Cloud really shows that the government is changing this attitude as it has changed the procedure for acquiring services. The high-profile nature of the service also means that it is going to be near impossible for the government no longer to utilise services from small companies.”

The head of ElasticHosts is Richard Davies and he has commented, “We are expecting a great deal more interest in our services especially from healthcare trusts and local authorities. These government organisations are finding that their IT systems need a refresh and we are able to offer this to them without any requirement for capital expenditure. This essentially eradicates any expensive deployment costs.”

There have been concerns raised about whether small businesses are able to deliver services to the government fast enough. An analyst for TechMarketView, Tola Sargeant has commented, “The cloud store is a catalogue of commodity products and it seems only possible for the government to compare things by price.

While this will save the government money in the long term there is a question about whether smaller providers will be able to deal with the volumes that the government often operate at. Whether they remain reliable is yet to be seen.”