The G-Cloud project, the government’s own cloud computing project, is already “alive and kicking,” after being put on hold and despite having a skeptical future due to financial constrains, according to delivery board member for the government’s cloud computing project.
According to Martin Bellamy, Ministry of Justice official, this project got delayed in 2010 but now gains support from government ministers.
During the Westminster eForum event, Bellamy said that the project’s delivery is increasing, “Anyone who thought the G-Cloud had gone a bit quiet, or that it’s died — well, no it’s not, it’s alive and kicking.”
G-Cloud project’s aim is to reduce datacenter costs. Pilot projects are running such as the implementation of Home Office multi-talented private cloud through utilizing a private cloud from supplier Savvis. Warwickshire County Council is currently piloting Google Apps’ Gmail and Google Docs services, according to Bellamy.
Bellamy told London audience that changing the culture of civil service procurement is a “substantial challenge.” He added that G-cloud implementation face a number of challenges but the government wants to use public cloud providers where possible and increase use of SME providers.
At the event, Bellamy told ZDNet UK that the cloud model is driven by standards. He explained that the challenge is trying to get public-sector workers used to purchasing IT based on specifying all aspects of a project to adapt to a cloud-service approach.
According to Bellamy, civil service IT professionals decides which proprietary standard to use and depends on public-sector data centers for delivery. These people are accustomed to identifying the components of the solution, the operating system and the hardware; however, they are not used to determining the standards and dealing with public-cloud providers.
Bellamy added that the government is looking for small businesses to work alongside with cloud providers, since those providers will not provide “service wrap” or write government applications for cloud use. He believes that suppliers are qualified to provide cloud products security for government data.
He also stated that the government wants to provide more chances for small and mid-sized businesses to partake in the procurement. In addition, it is unlikely that a government service will use public computing in the future if it requires a higher security level.
The government is also encountering other difficulty in “supplier engagement.” Initial stages of procurement normally take two years and most small business does not want to come forward. In order to attract more contractors, the government is also trying to cut procurement times.
Bellamy said that the concept of cloud services have already been accepted by some government departments, although there are still likely to be problems when it comes to implementing cloud solutions on a much wider scale.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for example, has one of the largest IT operations, processing £140bn in taxes per year and running trade systems for UK’s import and export. According to Mark Hall, deputy chief information officer, the biggest challenge that HMRC is facing is measuring the risks of cloud provision, since cloud providers are not making this clear in their contract.
Hall told ZDNet UK at the eForum event that, “the transparency of cloud provision is difficult,” He added, “We have less ability to audit [cloud companies], and the chain of providers is not transparent. In large outsourced systems integrator projects we know all the providers.”