Atos makes “opportunistic” grab for GaaP on G-Cloud


Atos has made an "opportunistic" play for Whitehall's Government-as-a-Platform (GaaP) business, despite the initiative being designed to steer public sector procurement away from Big IT.

The technology outsourcer has rebranded several of its G-Cloud-listed services as GaaP-friendly, following the Cabinet Office's introduction of the concept at a recent conference.

Outgoing minister Francis Maude wants to replace costly, siloed IT systems in central government with common platforms that can be shared by different departments.

This, he hopes, will cut costs and make it easy to build new services out of common components, instead of the public sector simply signing more deals with large outsourcers.

He wants Whitehall to be rid of all legacy contracts by 2020, earlier this month blasting old government contracts for being "too long, too big and too opaque".

But today Atos, the public sector's fourth largest IT provider according to the Institute for Government, indicated it wants a piece of the GaaP pie.

It earned 400 million from public sector deals in 2013, and has now revealed a messaging service as one of six products it's listing on G-Cloud 6 that it claims are suitable for GaaP.

A messaging platform, alongside a payments offering and a bookings platform, will have a prototype built early next Parliament by the Government Digital Service (GDS the team behind Whitehall's digital transition).

Kable analyst Jessica Figueras told IT Pro the move was more marketing fluff than truly transformative.

She said: "This is opportunistic, but hardly surprising. Everyone is talking GaaP, but no one knows what it means in practice yet.

"So inevitably suppliers will rush to rebrand their existing offerings as GaaP-friendly; they need to have a story just in case GaaP comes up in customer conversations."

Ovum analyst Chris Pennell concurred, adding: "My initial impression is that Atos are simply marketing their cloud/utility based services as supporting GaaP objectives."

The Cabinet Office will use external suppliers for its platforms it's already seeking up to five for identity assurance platform Verify.

But IT Pro had received no response from the body at the time of publication after asking whether it would involve large suppliers in GaaP.

However, Figueras said: "I don't believe GaaP will preclude any particular type of supplier. There's most likely to be a mixed economy, and any supplier that can adapt to the new climate of government IT can win business."

She suggested attitudes would differ widely among public sector groups, with some developing services in-house, others using off-the-shelf IT and others setting up joint ventures with suppliers.

Ovum's Pennell said: "These services will have their part to play in the GaaP market, after all government is not going to build everything in-house. But, it does want to consume products in a utility fashion."

Other Atos services targeted at GaaP include a predictive analytics platform, a cloud migration service,and systems integration and management (SIAM) for cloud service.