Government launches public sector app store for cloud-based ICT services

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude announced this week that CloudStore, the online ‘app store’ of the Government’s G-Cloud framework for cloud-based information and communications technology (ICT) services, is open for business.

Feb 23, 2012
By Paul Jacques

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude announced this week that CloudStore, the online ‘app store’ of the Government’s G-Cloud framework for cloud-based information and communications technology (ICT) services, is open for business.

CloudStore offers the public sector a cheaper, quicker and more transparent way to procure the services they need. It comprises four service genres – infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and specialist cloud services – and individual services including email, word processing, system hosting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), electronic records management, customer relationship management (CRM) and office productivity applications.

The £60,000 million G-Cloud framework is designed to revolutionise the purchasing, management and delivery of public sector IT services and the way suppliers work with government. Public sector organisations will be able to purchase ‘off-the-shelf’ IT services from CloudStore on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis rather than having to develop their own systems. This model means the Government can use what it wants, when it wants it and save money by avoiding duplication of services that cannot be shared.

Writing on the Government Digital Service website, Chris Chant, programme director for the G-Cloud project at the Cabinet Office, said: “The change we are already making is a big one. It will affect the way government buys IT, who we buy it from, how we handle security, how we focus relentlessly on our customers and how all our employees work, not just those in IT. Every aspect of government and the public sector will be affected, thankfully, things will never be the same.”

The catalogue includes service details and pricing information. Among the suppliers included are big names such as IBM, HP, Capita, CapGemini, BT, EMC, Dell, Steria, CSC Computer, Atos IT services, SAP and Vigin Media Business, but about 50 per cent are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Trustmarque, Softcat, Redstone, and Huddle are among the resellers listed.

The service has been developed by a UK SME, Solidsoft, while it is hosted on Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud platform.

Mr Maude said: “The launch of CloudStore is an important milestone in the Government’s ICT strategy to deliver savings and an IT system fit for the 21st century. Simply stated, purchasing services from CloudStore will be quicker, easier, cheaper and more transparent for the public sector and suppliers alike.

“CloudStore offers public sector bodies a range of the best industry IT services and solutions off-the-shelf. It provides the flexibility to change service provider easily without lengthy procurement and implementation cycles or being locked in to long contracts; and the freedom to quickly adopt solutions that are better value and more up to date.”

To encourage competition and ensure transparency, service details and pricing information are open to all on CloudStore, allowing buyers to compare services and suppliers and make fully informed purchasing decisions; and contracts should be no longer than a year.

Mr Maude added: “By creating a competitive marketplace, the G-Cloud framework will constantly encourage service providers to improve the quality and value of the solutions they offer, reducing the cost to taxpayers and suppliers. And it gives SME suppliers of niche products the same opportunities as bigger organisations supplying services.

“Using cloud solutions that have already been secured and accredited will almost always be less expensive, and we will only pay for what we use. We will also know from the outset the cost of the product and, importantly, the cost of exit from contracts that will be no longer than 12 months.”

Mark Wyllie, Capita executive director, IT and consulting, said: “The G-Cloud initiative presents a significant opportunity for public sector organisations to consolidate, standardise and meet the current economic challenges through the

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