Public Services > Central Government

Cloud service providers urge Cabinet Office to restate commitment to Cloud First policy

David Bicknell Published 23 July 2017

Cloud forum SIG wants Cabinet Office to engage around G-Cloud and GDPR compliance and would like to see departments’ cloud transition and IT sourcing plans published


Cloud service providers (CSPs) have called on the Cabinet Office to work closely with them to help the government deliver its 2020 transformation goals.

It is understood that as part of calls for a renewed partnership between cloud service providers and the Cabinet Office, a new Special Interest Group (SIG) is to be created to help CSPs better align with the needs of public sector buyers using the UK government’s G-Cloud procurement framework and Digital Marketplace.

The new group – to be chaired by Peter Middleton, director at Cloudline – is understood to have a series of key goals, including increasing the volume of cloud services purchased through G-Cloud, pursuing openness and transparency on the future vision and direction of G-Cloud, and helping vendors to match their services with the requirements of public sector buyers.

Behind the call is an industry concern that the continuing challenge of delivering Brexit amid ongoing austerity with a new government has highlighted a risk that momentum and progress on the Government Transformation Strategy could stall.

The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), the industry body which is dedicated to promoting trust, security, and transparency within cloud computing, wants to work in partnership with government to remove barriers and blockers that might prevent delivery of digital and cloud-based solutions that the providers argue, are “enabling transformative change to happen.”

The cloud providers, it is understood, would like to see more “joined-up thinking” from the centre of Whitehall, and a “demonstrable commitment” to reach out to industry. The SIG says it is keen to help create the right conditions for this to happen, and has called for action by the Cabinet Office on a set of immediate priorities.

These are believed to include a restatement of the commitment to a Cloud First policy with the publication of detailed cloud transition and IT sourcing plans for each department so industry can respond and adapt their business and product strategies to better meet government needs and means.

Other requests for collaborative action include clarifying how programmes of activity are likely to work in an ongoing partnership with industry, starting with the definition of a joint priority list of changes and improvements for the G-Cloud 10 framework.

The cloud service providers would also like to see work taking place to provide clarity and guidance on how GDPR compliance will be achieved for existing and future G-Cloud contracts.

Another goal as part of the relationship with the Cabinet Office would see more support for and the co-hosting of events with industry that actively bring buyers and suppliers together, in ways that encourage the sharing of best practice and a better understanding of user needs.

To help achieve these goals, the CSPs are also understood to want to see a commitment to the publication of up-to-date G-Cloud sales figures on a monthly basis. They are also asking the Cabinet Office to nominate a representative they can work closely with to take forward the priorities outlined.

CIF believes that when G-Cloud was created in 2012, it was a significant moment for the cloud computing sector, providing CSPs with a framework to bring the flexibility of cloud computing to the public sector. Now, five years on, it wants to ensure that the government doesn’t lose cloud momentum.

Middleton, meanwhile, is understood to believe that G-Cloud and other procurement frameworks available through the Digital Marketplace are critical enablers for successful delivery of the government’s ambitious transformation goals for 2020 and beyond.

The CSPs argue that taking forward the priorities outlined will be more likely to happen if the Cabinet Office nominates a representative with some status that the providers can closely work with.

In response, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said, "We work with the Crown Commercial Service and the Government Digital Service to actively engage a wide range of digital providers, suppliers and buyers.

"This engagement provides us with valuable insights into user needs that informs the continuous improvement of our digital portfolio. This includes working with industry bodies such as techUK to engage cloud market and technology suppliers through a series of briefings, workshops and user research."

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