UPDATED: Government G-Cloud is dead, says HP

Cloud computing

The UK Government G-Cloud project has been killed off by the Coalition, according to the managing director (MD) of HP in the UK.

Nick Wilson, who has been heavily involved in Government IT planning, revealed to IT PRO yesterday the Coalition had dropped the cloud initiative in favour of focusing more heavily on data centre consolidation.

There has been plenty of uncertainty surrounding the project since the Coalition came into power and took on the Labour-initiated programme.

When minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, did not mention the G-Cloud in his Government IT strategy outlined in March, the project was thrown into further doubt.

Now it seems the project has been completely scrapped.

"They've canned the project," Wilson said.

"They thought cloud was a bit too much nirvana, so in the short term, the projects that are being looked at are data centre consolidation."

At the time of publication, the Cabinet Office had not responded for a request for confirmation on ditching the G-Cloud.

The Labour Government announced the programme last year as it sought to enable different public bodies to share the same ICT environment. A Government report suggested it would be the biggest contributor to an overall multi-billion cost reduction plan.

Despite the Coalition's apparent decision to ditch the initiative, HP offered its vision for the G-Cloud to "everyone in Government," Wilson said.

Yesterday, IT PRO was presented with the same G-Cloud demo given to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in March.

As for consolidation, the Government runs around 120 to 130 data centres, but HP believes it should only have between 10 and 12.

"That would need every department to hold hands and say we're going to do something simpler," Wilson added.

Sluggish pace

Any data centre initiatives may be hampered by what Wilson described as frustratingly slow processes in Government to make IT projects a reality.

"They are heading in the right direction and they have all the right ideas but the pace is excruciatingly slow," he said.

"They have the right aims in mind, with the right attitude, for sure."

As an example of how the Coalition is making moves to speed up processes, Wilson said changes to procurement practices will see procurement cycles reduced to nine months, down from two years.

The Government is currently undertaking an inquiry into its processes to determine what needs to change. HP has been the only tech company to put itself forward to testify, according to Wilson.

It was hugely unlikely the Government would be able to stick to its 100 million recommended limit on IT projects, as it would need to invest in big initiatives with major companies if it was to make significant savings, Wilson said.

"If you want big savings if you want to get into the billions, you have to go to the big companies with big balance sheets and big ideas," he added.

UPDATED A Cabinet Office spokesperson has responded to Wilson's comments, telling IT PRO the Government was committed to cloud computing, but without mentioning the 'G-Cloud' title specifically.

"Any inference that Government has ditched' the cloud computing programme is wrong," the spokesperson said.

Despite assurances the Government was taking cloud seriously, there was no mention of the G-Cloud initiative. The spokesperson said the Government was committed to cloud computing and delivery of the "next version" of the its cloud strategy.

The Cabinet Office had not responded to a request for clarification over whether "the cloud programme" was in fact the G-Cloud project outlined by Labour last year, or a different initiative altogether when we posted this update.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.