G-Cloud is not dead but faces grave challenges

What's in store for government's cloud computing project...

What's in store for government's cloud computing project...

Whitehall is pressing ahead with its G-Cloud project but faces a "monumental challenge" in moving IT services to the cloud, according to a report out this week.

The G-Cloud project's aim is to reduce the number of datacentres run by government, from more than 8,000 down to about nine, by delivering public sector IT services from the cloud.

In a report, What's become of the UK government's G-Cloud programme?, TechMarketView analyst Georgina O'Toole said the coalition government remains committed to the project, which was started under Labour, but warned of the challenges ahead.

"They need to ensure a consistent approach to create a fully integrated ICT environment which will allow effective communication and sharing of data and information across organisational boundaries," O'Toole says in the report.

"However, the government's experience trying to achieve a similar result even within a single department, as with the ill-fated National Programme for IT at the NHS, though not under the cloud banner, suggests that this will be a monumental challenge."

A group of 50-plus civil servants and IT industry volunteers are working on developing the G-Cloud model, O'Toole said, including the development of the Government App Store (GAS) - a central repository for public sector software apps.

The G-Cloud project has not been shelved under the coalition government

Blocks of cloud services will probably be tailored to different public sector roles, such as a justice cloud and a defence cloud
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

IT services will be delivered to the public sector from public and private cloud platforms, the report says, with the expectation that separate blocks of cloud services will be tailored to different public sector roles - for instance, a justice cloud and a defence cloud.

The focus of the G-Cloud will be delivering infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service, the report states, as these services account for about 80 per cent of government IT spend.

As government IT service contracts are renewed, a shift towards cloud service delivery is taking place, according to the report, citing the agreement to increase the use of virtualisation and reduce datacentres under the HM Revenue & Customs Aspire contract.

In future a central authority will agree technical standards, aimed at simplifying the move to the cloud, with which all public sector IT procurements will have to comply. The authority will also encourage public sector use of cloud services and GAS wherever possible, and oversee the creation of new cloud services where no public or private alternatives are available.

To help manage the transition to the cloud, all public sector organisations are being requested to procure IT services on a "scalable cloud basis", the report says, ahead of the CIO Council being given the role of approving all IT contracts.