'David or Goliath?' A bit of both would bring out the best of G-Cloud

A businessman holding a small cloud in his hands
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I’m blogging about the latest UK government G-Cloud announcements: aka CloudStore. Quick summary, I’m genuinely excited and optimistic.

At IBM, we’ve always been fortunate to be involved in public sector contracts. Like others, IBM is also now a player in the government G-Cloud, working closely alongside, or with a raft of, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and cloud ecosystem partners.

For me, cloud technology has fundamentally and permanently changed the way an organisation operates. The simple fact is that cloud makes you nimble, cloud makes you quick. Its characteristics help bigger players like IBM become more dynamic and adopt a more SME style. The flipside is that SMEs can gain levels of scale using opex over the traditional capex environment. What's the outcome of this: a disruptive equilibrium. I argue this isn’t just a good thing for UK government strategy, this is a GREAT thing, achieving the very best of both worlds; the power of Goliath and the nimbleness of David – wow!

Reading between the lines and wearing more provocative lenses, is there a hint of “protectionism?” The rumour mill suggests the government G-Cloud strategy is sometimes touted as a battle between the ‘good guys’ - the UK SME’s and the 'big guys’ - the IT services giants like IBM and others. The basic premise is that for the government to meet its cost reduction targets, it must embrace innovative and flexible solutions (ie cheap) from SMEs, and in turn that’s got to be good for the UK Economy.

Surely this is is oversimplifying the problem? The world of IT has changed, and cloud services in particular, have accelerated at such a rate to offer innovative solutions which were not possible before.

The government G-Cloud strategy has made contracting simpler and more transparent, creating a level playing field for all. The SME will need software and hardware technology to build its cloud service. It will need to invest in a secure and robust infrastructure to host the service. It will need to invest in the skills and people to supply, manage and maintain the service. At the end of all of this it will need to make a fair profit.

Do IT services giants compete with SME’s in this space? In some cases “yes”, but in most cases the answer is "no". IT provider SCC launched its new Secure Multi-Tenancy Cloud for CloudStore on the UK government’s G-Cloud programme earlier this year. Tracy Westall, SCC’s UK Public Sector Director said the company’s relationship with IBM would “deliver to G-Cloud customers a range of highly scalable, robust and secure solutions at a much reduced cost.” She added “SMEs will also be able to offer their own innovative solutions via an enterprise grade infrastructure that would previously have been out of their reach. It’s a win-win situation.”

In any collaboration, it’s a relationship of many parts. Large IT companies need the speed, agility and innovation that an SME can bring. A great example in the UK is Assimil8, an SME based in Nottingham. Assimil8 developed a 'Home Analytics' service in partnership with the Energy Savings Trust, and used the IBM SmartCloud platform for delivering this to local government departments.

It makes absolute business sense for big and small to collaborate. This approach means that we can address some of the significant cost savings and innovation challenges that the UK government is facing. For buyers, as ever, it is all about choosing the right service, with the right technology, for the right price at the right time. It also takes trust, you can’t buy that, and we all need to earn it!

So, as a perennial optimist and intrapreneur, I’m upbeat about CloudStore. I wish it success and that we all can grow with that success.

Doug Clark is the cloud leader for IBM UK and Ireland. He is part of a global team in IBM shaping and implementing the IBM Cloud Strategy.  He leads a specialist team of business development, solution and technical architects that link across IBM's extensive lines of business to support the ambitions of our customers.

Prior to IBM, Doug had 17 years international experience in various blue chip corporations across CPG and healthcare, holding director level roles in sales, distribution and process improvement.  Doug has an MBA and a degree in Biochemistry.