Expert makes predictions for UK public sector IT trends in 2014 and beyond

Skyscape CEO anticipates G-Cloud spend will increase tenfold over next 12 months, with accelerated take-up ahead of the May 2015 election.

2013 has been a significant year in Government IT.  The launch of the Cloud First policy in May, which mandated all central Government departments to purchase IT through the G-Cloud Framework, demonstrated the high level of confidence in the cloud.  G-Cloud – which has revolutionised the way the UK Public sector buys its IT – has also celebrated an important year, with its first anniversary, a move under the remit of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and Mike Bracken’s team, and the launch of two new iterations – Giii and most recently, G4 in October 2013.

As we near the end of 2013, Phil Dawson, CEO of Skyscape Cloud Services, looks back over the past year and makes his predictions for 2014:

It has been a momentous and largely successful year for public sector IT.  The latest recorded spend via G-Cloud was just under £63.5m up until the end of November – a substantial sum given that the spend was just over £2m in January 2013.  Various other Government initiatives have had great success in growing the public sector take up of cloud technologies and in tackling the overly risk-averse culture that exists in the public sector.  Judging by the rapidly escalating spend via G-Cloud this year, we predict October 2014’s spend will be ten times that of October 2013.

We are beginning to see the buying community become increasingly sophisticated, however there is still a lack of understanding of the opportunities offered by G-Cloud.  We therefore hope to see a far greater focus on educating both buyers and suppliers in 2014, as this remains the biggest challenge to cloud adoption in the public sector.  For example, the most common criticism of the Framework to date has been the relatively low spend that has been seen.  To start with, low spend is a fundamental objective of the programme.  Cloud technologies are intrinsically cheaper than on-premise solutions, so a move to the cloud inevitably results in cost savings, often more than one third cheaper than alternative solutions.  Secondly, the figures that have been released only provide an overview of exactly what has been billed and processed by GPS to date, and therefore this doesn’t provide an accurate overview of the total value of the contracts via G-Cloud.  And finally, opening up the market to smaller suppliers and increasing competition, thereby removing restrictive and expensive contracts of larger incumbent suppliers, helps to further reduce costs!

As a Framework supplier, we are keen to see more transparency around the opportunities that are now available in the market.  We hope to see GDS tackle some of the rather tenuous myths that surround cloud computing.  Additionally, while the G-Cloud programme has without doubt succeeded in broadening the market to smaller suppliers, there is more to be done to increase competition in the higher Impact Levels (ILs) – at IL3 and above, for instance.  At present, there are relatively few suppliers that are accredited to IL3 and above and we hope so see an increase in competition at this end of the market moving forward, with suppliers upping their game when it comes to accreditation, without the bar being lowered.

With the launch of G-Cloud 5 planned for early 2014 and some great public sector success stories from 2013, for next year, we anticipate that the G-Cloud buying community will continue to grow.  However, more needs to be done to actively encourage take up of the cloud, and to support buyers who are unfamiliar with G-Cloud.  There also needs to be clearer communication with both buyers and suppliers about the implications of significant changes, such as the forthcoming changes to the Government Protective Marking Scheme in April 2014.  Furthermore, changes must be made to ensure that the CloudStore and the G-Cloud Framework agreement are able to better accommodate the increasingly large and complex requirements of G-Cloud’s growing buying community.
Additional predictions for 2014 and beyond from Skyscape include:

• The adoption of the Public Services Network (PSN) will rise, which will, in turn, lead to an increase in cloud adoption, as this will make it easier to access and use cloud services

• Spending via the G-Cloud will move from Lot 4 to Lots 1 & 2, as early consultancy engagements move to transition and implementation of cloud services

• Cloud First, and an increasingly confident consumer community, will mean larger and more complex requirements will be sourced via the CloudStore

• The spend via G-Cloud will accelerate significantly ahead of the May 2015 general election

• Hybrid cloud deployments will increase, which will also enable organisations to trial the cloud

• Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings will become more widely understood and recognised, encouraging adoption of PaaS services

• Expect to see further commoditisation of products and services in future iterations of the G-Cloud Framework, resulting in more standardisation, which will further drive costs down and encourage adoption

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