The government's cloud-computing initiative may be made obsolete by a government networking project combined with private sector cloud services, according to public sector IT management organisation Socitm.
As a large IT project requiring new components, the G-Cloud could carry unforeseen risks, Socitm head of policy Martin Ferguson said on Thursday. By contrast, the Public Sector Network (PSN) will link networks that have already been established, he said.
"PSN is hardening on what's already there, gluing bits together around common standards and common security, and it's not trying to procure something that is big, unmanageable, and may run away in terms of scope and cost," said Ferguson. "There is that danger in the G-Cloud. Why do we need to create this animal when Amazon is already [providing cloud services]?"
The G-Cloud is being developed by the Cabinet Office and is being designed to allow more government IT services to be moved to cloud computing. The project will use a mixture of new public and private sector datacentres. In addition, the G-Cloud will have an app store designed to ease software and services procurement.
The PSN project, which predates G-Gloud, will link different government networks and is designed to alter the way that government procures voice and data services. One of the main aims of PSN is to create a virtual private network for the public sector from existing infrastructure. Another is to cut down on the number of multiple implementations of products and services by giving agencies more access to existing software and services.
The Cabinet Office did not officially respond to a request for comment. However, ZDNet UK understands that the Cabinet Office sees distinctions between PSN and G-Cloud, in that PSN will provide the infrastructure for service delivery, while G-Cloud will provide the means to procure those services.
Westminster City Council chief information officer David Wilde said that his own personal preference was for improved networking as opposed to cloud-computing projects. "I'm a big fan of networking networks," said Wilde. "We need to invest more smartly and use VPNs."
Wilde added that cloud computing procurement models were radically different for the public and private sectors.
"For the private sector, being able to scale up and down on demand is nirvana," he said. "For the public sector it's a nightmare scenario."
The public sector could plan for anticipated demand, but increased size means increased cost, according to Wilde. This is fine for the private sector, which can offset costs with revenues, but for the public sector that model would be difficult to budget, he said.