I was asked a few weeks ago to give a short presentation to a Cloud Working Group on G-Cloud and what it actually is. It’s a term that gets loosely banded around the office here with questions and debate around whether we could use the G-Cloud or if not at least make use of any policies and frameworks that the G-Cloud introduced.
Instead of boring you with the slides I hastily threw together in the all too familiar ‘I’ve got to get this done in the next two days panic’ I thought I’d bore you with some paragraphs on my view of the G-Cloud!
A definition: Bringing utility convenience to Public Sector ICT – shared, secure, flexible, agile, transparent and efficient allocation of ICT when it’s needed, through sharing of standardised resources to reduce costs.
But what does G-Cloud and that definition actually mean?
Well the ‘G’ stands for government and the G-Cloud will be a cloud computing platform designed to host all of the software used by the public sector. It will consist of around 12 virtualised data centres that will be linked to all public sector organisations by a secure network. The idea is that public sector organisations will eventually access all of their software from the G-Cloud.
There are a number of ICT workstreams that originated from the Government’s ICT Strategy three of which relate to the G-Cloud initiative; these being:
- Data Centre Consolidation; consolidating Government Data Centres from 130+ to 9 – 12
- Government Applications Store (G-AS); creating a central catalogue and marketplace to allow services to be procured online and provisioned automatically
- G-Cloud (Government Cloud Computing; defining the commercial and technical environment to allow Government to benefit from XaaS (Infrastructure/Platform/Software as a Service and Cloud technologies.
So why do the Government want to spend a fair amount of money in creating the G-Cloud? Well not surprisingly it all comes down to money …
- There are at least 130 Government data centres, and perhaps hundreds more if local councils, police forces etc are included.
- It is estimated that there are over 10,000 applications and services running in these data centres.
- The aim of G-Cloud is to consolidate the majority of these data centres and separate applications and services and to end the proliferation of unnecessary software and hardware across the public sector.
- Consolidating data centres could save £300 million a year.
- Consolidating applications and services could save £500 million a year.
Apart from the usual dependencies around approvals and budget there is one key dependency on the success of the G-Cloud and that is moving from the myriad of networks within Government departments, local authorities, police forces and health authorities to a single holistic network of networks. Fortunately there is a project in place to deliver this converged network, which I believe will be called the Public Sector Network.
So how long is the G-Cloud meant to take before it can start realising that promised savings of around £800 million pet year? Estimates that I have seen stated it could be as late as 2020 before savings are realised. This to me must raise a few questions about whether the initial vision for the G-Cloud will ever be realised or will it go the way of such initiatives as FLEX which seems to have melted into the background.
Other factors that must challenge the G-Cloud vision are:
- The new coalition Government; are they committed to G-Cloud? They seem to have been a bit quiet on the subject.
- They will probably be a change in Government before 2020. Will future Governments still be committed.
- The Government CIO John Suffolk has moved on and is being replaced by Joe Harley, who has come from the Department of Work and Pensions. At DWP he made savings of around £1.6 billion over a 5 year period, will he bring his savings framework from the DWP and will that threaten the G-Cloud.
- Gov Applications Store prototype due next year (go.theregister.com)
- NATO takes tentative Cloud steps, with help from IBM (cloudave.com)