Let's act to keep G Cloud flame burning

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Have we reached a tipping point in the world of G Cloud?

There’s a definite feeling that something needs to be done if the concept is taken beyond an interesting experiment to something more permanent. The only question is what?

A meeting organised by Eurocloud on the subject led to some divergent viewpoints – not surprising given the wide range of speakers and attendees: people from large vendors, SMEs and public sector buyers all looking to pass on their views.

There are those on the supplier side who said that the buyers should be gung-ho for the additional work. But there were also people who pointed the hundreds of suppliers who didn’t have a sniff of any business from the G Cloud framework. There were also those who pointed out the lack of ambition from local authorities.

There was one glaring omission though: there was nobody there speaking from G Cloud itself, nor from the GDS, nor from the Cabinet Office. This was no surprise, says Stuart Lauchlan from Diginomica, as the government appears to be making G Cloud a low priority.

Perhaps the most trenchant speaker was Peter Middleton, formerly of G Cloud. Freed from the shackles of employee duty he could provide a more forthright view of the state of the G Cloud market. It was he who pointed out that “hundreds of suppliers had not made sales.” It was he who pointed out many of the G Cloud sales were not true cloud sales (in other words, there’s too much consultancy going on) and it was he who pointed out the low take-up by local authorities.

If there is a problem, what do we do about it?

There are a couple of issues, all of which were highlighted at the conference. One is the lack of coordination from all sides. Yes, the government could do more, but who’s putting on the pressure? It’s no good expecting the procurement bodies to do so – many of them are very comfy with the status quo and don’t expect the large software vendors and SIs to move quickly either. Cloud is a very disruptive force and people don’t want to see the boat being rocked.

No, the industry has to do this for itself. That includes the vendors, the bodies (the likes of Eurocloud and the Cloud Industry Forum), publications such as Cloud Pro and public sector organisations – if there’s a cloud expert at SocITM, it’s probably someone who watches the weather – I’ve never seen anyone from that organisation at any of the many cloud events I’ve attended.

And it’s also the users themselves: one vendor drew attention to the fact that customers refused to be quoted or have any details published about their implementations – a phenomenon I know from bitter experience. It’s a position I can understand from commercial organisations, but can’t begin to fathom why a public sector organisation should hold such a view. Maybe, organisations should be compelled to give interviews about their purchasing decisions in the same way that Premier League clubs have to provide someone for post-match analysis.

The meeting ended with vague ideas of getting a G Cloud manifesto together. It’s a great idea but the spirit of that assembly needs to be converted into action. At a time when the UK implementation of G Cloud is being held up as an example of public cooperation, it would be a tragedy to drop the ball so close to the line.

Max Cooter

Max Cooter is a freelance journalist who has been writing about the tech sector for almost forty years.

At ITPro, Max’s work has primarily focused on cloud computing, storage, and migration. He has also contributed software reviews and interviews with CIOs from a range of companies.

He edited IDG’s Techworld for several years and was the founder-editor of CloudPro, which launched in 2011 to become the UK’s leading publication focused entirely on cloud computing news.

Max attained a BA in philosophy and mathematics at the University of Bradford, combining humanities with a firm understanding of the STEM world in a manner that has served him well throughout his career.