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Gov tech buyers told to buy from CloudStore first

Um, good luck with that ...

The Cabinet Office has mandated procurement heads in central government to use the CloudStore first when splashing taxpayers' cash on tech in a bid to kill off old world buying habits.

And despite a faltering start to the G-Cloud programme*, just £1.25m was transacted under the first iteration and a total of £18.6m over the two versions to date - the Cabinet Office is sticking to spending estimates.

To put this in perspective, the Cabinet Office has said that central government spends roughly £8bn on ICT a year and the wider public sector splashes roughly £16bn. Gov bods are predicting that £20m will be spent on G-Cloud in 2013 and £120m in 2014.

"Our goal remains to put 50 per cent of new IT spending through the G-Cloud by 2015," said a mouthpiece for the Cabinet Office.

The covers were this week lifted off GIII, the third iteration of the platform which houses some 700-plus suppliers all vying for a piece of public sector action on CloudStore, a web-based catalogue listing IT services.

"We want G-Cloud and CloudStore to be the first and natural place for public sector buyers to look for IT services. This won't happen overnight," the Cabinet Office PR man told us.

"However, the introduction of a Cloud First policy, and the launch of a much expanded G-Cloud supplier framework and enhanced CloudStore, support propagation and education work G-Cloud is already doing with departments to increase use of the cloud," he said.

The mandate was approved by the Public Expenditure Committee (Efficiency and Reform) Cabinet sub-committee.

But the spokesman was unable to provide a timetable for shifting new procurement to the CloudStore, admitting, various departments will "formulate their own plans for moving to the cloud first".

The Cabinet Office man said he was also unable to provide targets for the level of new spend via CloudStore.

Programme director Denise McDonagh made a prediction in March that £20m will be spent on G-Cloud in the next year and £120m the year after.

Hopefully it will be more accurate than past predictions by government bods who reckoned some £100m would be spent under the second coming of G-Cloud.

The majority of contracts placed via CloudStore were for consultancy services with a focus on Agile and cloud adoption and migration, said Ovum chief public sector analyst Joe Dignan.

"But G-Cloud will need to be seen as the government's primary procurement engine across the various themes, and not a consultancy framework ghetto," he said.

Public sector buyers will be forced to write a business plan and seek approval from Cabinet Office beancounters before they can purchase in the traditional way, said Simon Hansford, CTO at G-Cloud supplier Skyscape.

"So there is policy pressure and obstacles to buy outside of the cloud," he told The Channel. "We think there'll be massive growth in CloudStore, but it has taken an awful lot of time to get the message to the buyer."

Next week Skyscape will announce the first multi-million pound per annum contract under G-Cloud.

Hansford said, "Only now are we starting to see the big orders coming through for infrastructure, platform and software". ®

*The private government cloud computing and services framework

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