Why Benioff was right about Government cloud sluggishness

Cloud computing

COMMENT Salesforce.com chief executive (CEO) Marc Benioff had some harsh words for the UK Government this week.

During CloudForce 2011 in London yesterday, he said the adoption of cloud services was not happening fast enough and the G-Cloud was not the right way to go.

"The UK Government is way behind and is far too interested in the G-Cloud and virtualisation," Benioff said, our sister site Cloud Pro reported. Regardless of whether Benioff was right about the G-Cloud model itself (whatever that now is), he made a fine point about the sluggish pace of Government in moving to the cloud.

The Coalition's approach to cloud computing has been a befuddling one. On the one side there have been clear statements of intent on moving infrastructure off-premise. Yet at the same time there has been nothing in the way of realisation of such promises.

Given the Government pledged to outline its strategy by September, it seems clear things aren't moving as fast as was hoped. That strategy will now not appear until next month. Such delays do nothing to inspire confidence amongst cynics.

The whole cloud project which IT Pro was led to believe would not even be called the G-Cloud has been stuttering for months now. At the heart of the matter lie mixed messages from industry and Government alike.

This has all left us with a picture about as clear as a Monet hacked to pieces by a chainsaw doused in multi-coloured paints.

We were told by HP's UK managing director in June the G-Cloud project had been canned, only for the Cabinet Office to claim cloud programmes were still on course. For some unknown reason, no one would utter the phrase G-Cloud.'

We continued to press the issue until we were eventually told the so-called "cloud computing programme" was going to be a "re-energised G-Cloud" building on the work achieved to date.

Then, earlier this week, Martin Bellamy, director of change and ICT at the Ministry of Justice, said the G-Cloud was very much alive and kicking. He stoutheartedly asserted the Government was "going to make it happen."

This has all left us with a picture about as clear as a Monet hacked to pieces by a chainsaw doused in multi-coloured paints.

All this confusion surrounding the Government's cloud work hints at problems in Whitehall. It would suggest there have been disputes about the best way forward. Why else would there be delays to this mysterious strategy document?

Some clarity would be welcome, some inkling of what the Government is planning to do. Why all the secrecy? Is it because the Government isn't entirely sure what it's up to in the cloud at all? Perhaps.

Benioff nailed it on the head though the Government is way behind. To move progress at pace, as with any IT project, a clear strategy is needed. Right now, that is what's missing.

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.