G-cloud to aim for 12-month contracts

The government intends to cut the length of its IT contracts for cloud services down from several years to 12 months or less, to promote flexibility and avoid being stuck with legacy technology
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

The government is planning to trim IT contract lengths in a bid to prevent its cloud services becoming bound by obsolete technology, the Cabinet Office has said.

Previously, the government regularly signed IT contracts of five, seven or 10 years, said Liam Maxwell, director of ICT Futures at the Cabinet Office, in a keynote at Cloud Expo Europe in London on Wednesday.

"We really don't think we're going to be seeing many contracts in the cloud service area that are beyond 12 months," he said. "You don't need to sign a cloud contract for five years."

The announcement comes alongside the government's plan, announced in October, to tender an early G-Cloud framework contract that runs for six months with a three-month extension option.

The government will focus on "short contracts" of "different sizes", as a means of keeping the government cloud, or G-Cloud, flexible, said Maxwell.

Procurement changes

For the past year the government has been giving information about how the G-Cloud and the public sector network (PSN) will change procurement strategies. It wants to include more small firms in the bidding process, will attempt to use open-source software, and reduce the time it takes to sign a procurement fulfilment contract.

"I think in two or three years' time what we now call IT — the delivery of those disaggregated services of hosting, networking, end-user devices, support — all of those will become a core commodity service that is bought... like staples," said Maxwell. "The future is in the digital commissioning model," he added.

Besides procuring infrastructure for private clouds, the government will also look into using public clouds, such as those provided by Amazon Web Services, Maxwell confirmed to ZDNet UK.

It will focus on implementing a set of government-wide cloud standards, he said, and will work with the IT industry to make sure it gets these right. This is intended to make it easier for the government to procure services that dovetail into its infrastructure.

"We've determined it's very important we have standards we should adhere to," said Maxwell. "We're publishing a consultation early next month into standards and what we feel an open standard, which should be across government, should be."

Maxwell invited attendees at his keynote at Cloud Expo Europe to get in touch with the government after it publishes the paper and give feedback on the proposed standards.

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