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UK government is likely to miss its own cloud targets

The new report, Smart Savings 3: G-Cloud Progress, suggests an even balance between ‘on the whole positive’ (45%) and ‘on the whole negative’ (41%) attitudes towards G-Cloud within the public sector. But while the VMWare praises the government initiative, it finds a high degree of apathy and misunderstanding. 

The G-Cloud intent is laudable. Introduced last year, and with an approved app CloudStore that came on-stream in February, the VMWare report notes that G-Cloud will “change the way suppliers work with government so that departments can use what they want, when they want it, and save money by avoiding duplication of services that cannot be shared.” And also avoid getting tied into costly long-term proprietary contracts.

“G-Cloud aims to reduce government IT costs by £200m per year,” says the BBC

“However,” says the report, “only 34% [of respondents] said they currently felt the G-Cloud was likely to deliver these benefits. Over half (59%) of respondents did not know if they would use G-Cloud to procure IT services, with a further 4% saying definitely not.”

As might be expected, concerns “around security and privacy” weigh heavily. But the biggest resistance to using G-Cloud for procurement comes from a belief that “G-Cloud is unproven”, and continuing doubts whether the government “will get it off the ground.”

VMWare’s conclusion is not that there are any problems with the strategy itself, but that the government has so far failed to sell it. The potential cost savings – and indeed improved security – are too attractive to miss. Commenting on the report, Pontus Noren, director and co-founder of Cloudreach, highlights a successful local sector cloud project, “There is increasing interest in Google Apps among local authorities,” he says. “Many need to replace email platforms that are reaching end-of-life, and Google’s offering is an extremely attractive option. Recently,” he explains, “the London Borough of Hillingdon became the first UK local authority to move to Google Apps – and is set to save £3 million over the next four years. If the lack of enthusiasm reigns, too many public sector organizations will miss out on similar savings.”

And the security issue? “Although security is naturally a concern when local authorities consider cloud computing,” adds Noren, “the level of security built into Google’s systems could never be achieved in-house.”