For all the talking of the dog days of summer, many of us could rightly say we’ve been working like dogs for the last few weeks and probably months. And there’s no sign of a rest coming up. The team were delighted, of course, to get the revised set of terms and conditions for G-Cloud ii out at the end of last month. We hope we’ve addressed the bulk of the clarifications – there were plenty of them to deal with. Remember, the deadline for clarifications is 8th August 2012 and submissions need to be in by 22nd August, at 3pm. And, if you’re an existing supplier, you need to sign the new terms and conditions, or complete the whole process if you’re adding or changing your services.
Applications for G-Cloud ii
We had nearly 600 expressions of interest in the original G-Cloud, which turned into around 300 suppliers getting on to the framework. For this iteration, we have, so far, 376 new applicants (as well as the vast majority of the original companies returning for this new version). We’re very, very pleased by that – it shows a continued endorsement of what we have been trying to achieve all along: a convenient, sensible approach to procurement that suits suppliers and customers across government. We’ll be keeping G-Cloud i live until G-Cloud ii is up and running of course.
Whilst we have had plenty of purchases on the framework – we announced purchases totalling £729,848.99 on the 12th June 2012 (and we recognise that a big part of this was down to some pent up demand for a collaboration capability available as SaaS) and that has since increased to £1.15m – we’ll provide the breakdown very soon.
There are plenty more deals in the pipeline including the fabled switch of some services from US hosting companies to UK companies, a small part of government who managed to slash their hosting costs by 97% by moving to a G-Cloud provider, half a dozen local authorities purchasing services and support, a couple of very large departments looking to move substantial services to the cloud and some storage as a service purchases. More to come.
We know that one thing stopping plenty of purchases is the availability of assured and accredited (at IL2 and IL3) services. We are very confident that we’ll be able to announce the first few accredited services within the coming weeks – everyone is working hard on it. Getting a service accredited for use by the whole of government (known as Pan-Government Accreditation) is pretty rare – suppliers, accreditors and CESG have had to work hard to get it done. We continue to look for faster ways of achieving it and will be taking the time to look at how these first few worked through the process and what we can improve.
During July, for instance, we had 14 services complete the scoping phase for accreditation and there are a further 41 in the pipeline addressing issues raised in one place or another. There are 13 services in the final stage, fixing last minute problems and we have one who is through the whole way, just waiting for the sign offs. Achieving Pan-Government Accreditation really is something – I can probably count on both hands the total number of suppliers who have achieved it in the last 5 years, yet G-Cloud will quadruple or quintuple that number over the next couple of months. #Acceptable, perhaps. Utterly acceptable, even.
Meanwhile, in the background, several departments are evaluating some very large scale services with a view to purchasing them from G-Cloud. Whilst we have made the procurement process as slick as possible, there are inevitably lots of other considerations, especially where there is a need to transition from an existing service. We are supporting those departmental evaluations at every step and hope to be able to report news on the results of those evaluations and the purchases soon.
Getting the message out
We think there’s still plenty of education for us to do – both for suppliers looking for customers and the other way round – and, whilst we don’t see ourselves quite as providing Cloud Dating services (perhaps on another lot, in another iteration), we are planning a series of events to bring customers and suppliers together so that everyone can understand the issues and opportunities. We plan to schedule the first of those once the holidays and sporting events are over. From then on we’ll have a regular heartbeat of meetings, hosted in various places across the country. We’re also teaming up with other government initiatives – like the End User Device team and the PSN programme – to make sure there’s a consistent message and that everyone can see how they fit together.
As part of our plan for propagation of the potential that G-Cloud unlocks, we’ll be setting up communities of interest – getting everyone helping and supporting each other that the G-Cloud market becomes owned and driven by customers and suppliers and helping to prevent our small, central team becoming a limiting factor in the growth and usage of cloud services in government. We will continue to facilitate, of course, but we have already been approached by enough people who want to help with this that it will work beautifully.
We’re working through, as well, how we will run the refreshes to the framework so that we can add new services and capabilities as they emerge and as demand is seen from customers. We think once accredited services are available and we are running the events to bring everything together, we will see a shift away from Lot 4 services to more from the infrastructure and software offers.