...plenty of smaller suppliers willing to step in to fill the gap left by the big vendors in the commodity cloud space. A tender document asking for suppliers to provide software as a service, infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and general cloud support services to government under a framework agreement has drawn interest from more than 500 suppliers - some seven times the usual response to government contracts of this type.
How government IT will change
When you have an inefficient system of IT delivery, those inefficiencies not only feed private sector profits but spawn a swathe of jobs.
The phrase 'reinventing the wheel' is often used to refer to the way that government approaches IT - usually it describes the way that poor co-ordination between government bodies leads to them buying what is essentially the same IT system many times over. However, the same phrase can be applied to the roles that have grown up around public sector IT.
Because each government body tends to buy its own IT, each organisation will usually employ people who look after procurement of those systems, check they are secure and manage what are often very large and complex contracts with technology suppliers.
In the cloud world, many of these roles will disappear as the government moves to a model that allows it to buy systems once and then distribute them across the public sector. Making this new approach possible will be an online app store where authorities can buy cloud services.
The government app store is envisaged as an online shopfront where public sector bodies can procure cloud-based software and services - from office systems to payment engines - that have been accredited for government use. Because each product on the store will have been assessed to ensure it meets security standards and procurement regulations, it will remove the need for many of the checks that are currently carried out by each authority before they deploy systems.
"That large procurement activity job ought to become markedly simpler and so [allow the government to] reduce the number of people," Chant said.
"Security and IA are also a critical part of what we do but if we are getting some of that out of the way by pre-accrediting products as they come through at least a good percentage of the security will have been done once, and so doesn't need to be repeated time and time again across multiple organisations. That's the second part where there can be substantial reduction."
Moving to off the shelf cloud-based software will also remove the need for teams of staff dedicated to managing complex multiyear contracts with IT suppliers. Because government will be able to switch cloud services and software far more easily than it can currently switch IT suppliers, there will be less need for "a bunch of people chasing down various service level agreements that are in place with major suppliers", according to Chant.
"I can say to a supplier 'I'm on a monthly contract, this guy over here's doing it for a better price and the quality is really great, your price is not so good and you've let us down on a couple of occasions, see you later'," said Chant.
All of this is great in theory: however, none of these changes will be straightforward. For as long as government has used IT it's been locked into...