Cloud computing plan to cut costs and speed deployment, claims government CIO
Whitehall will use cloud computing to trim almost £4bn from the public sector's annual IT bill and to rapidly roll out new computer systems, government CIO John Suffolk said yesterday.
By 2020 the government G-Cloud platform could be delivering IT services to organisations across the public sector, cutting the £16.9bn it spends on IT each year by almost one quarter, Suffolk told the SIIA OnDemand Europe conference in London.
About £500m of the G-Cloud savings will come from reducing the number of public sector datacentres, from the more than 8,000 used by central government today to no more than 12 G-Cloud datacentres.
Other savings will be realised from the Government Application Store - which will allow public sector bodies to buy software and services hosted on the G-Cloud and end the wasteful practice of government bodies separately purchasing the same software many times over.
Describing the app store as "like eBay", Suffolk said that it will allow public sector organisations to share common back office software and systems, as well as those related to public sector roles such as healthcare and law enforcement.
"Much of what we do is common, standard and simple and therefore is ideally suited to a cloud-based model," he said.
Suffolk said that the G-Cloud will also mean that public sector organisations will no longer be locked into long-term IT contracts, as IT services delivered through the G-Cloud will be pay-per-use.
However the G-Cloud will offer more than savings: Suffolk said that public sector organisations should also be able to rapidly deploy systems that are hosted on the G-Cloud and be able to "spin up a product... in a day" or less.
Other sections within the G-Cloud will be set aside for application testing, to host software migrated over from organisations' internal datacentres and to provide web apps.
The G-Cloud will also end the dominance of the government IT market by just 12 large suppliers, who Suffolk said currently take home more than 60 per cent of government IT spending.
It currently takes up to 77 weeks and can cost a supplier up to £500,000 to bid for a government contract, pricing most small suppliers out of tendering a bid.
"SMEs [small and medium sized enterprises] cannot afford to bid for a 77-week contract – that stifles a lot of innovation because a lot of that comes from SMEs," said Suffolk.
The money and time needed to bid for government contracts will be reduced, as the G-Cloud will allow the large IT contracts currently relied on by government to be broken up – for example one supplier could provide an organisation's operating system and another supplier could provide the applications - making it easier for small suppliers to bid to provide government contracts.