G-Cloud 8 application deadline extended
Potential suppliers will have additional 48 hours to review revised framework documentation amidst wider debate on how best to evolve cloud service procurement for the public sector
Suppliers looking for a place on the upcoming eighth iteration of G-Cloud (G8) will have an additional 48 hours to submit applications for the revised framework.
As part of ongoing reforms to the Digital Marketplace platform, which houses G-Cloud among a number of other technology-focused frameworks, the Government Digital Service (GDS) has said suppliers now have until 5:00pm on Thursday June 23 to express their interest in the agreement.
"During the clarification period we received a number of questions about the G8 framework agreement and call-off contract," said a blog post on the amended deadline. "In response, we've made some changes to the documents and we've extended the application deadline to give suppliers two more days to review the updates."
GDS said that updated documentation such as the G-Cloud 8 framework agreement and call-off contracts, as well as the Management Information System Online (MISO) template, were now available to suppliers through the Digital Marketplace.
G-Cloud 8 is anticipated to go live in August, with a wider review looking at how the framework can be adapted to better meet key user and supplier needs now underway. This will be used to inform a future ninth iteration of the agreement.
The deadline extension has come the same week that suppliers have been sharing their experiences of trying to sell through the agreement and whether they see value in continued involvement.
Kate Craig-Wood, founder of cloud hosting provider Memset, spoke of her disenchantment with how the framework was functioning based on the level of investment the company had put in to meet compliance and security requirements.
Craig-Wood questioned the company's sales approach, whether infrastructure as a service is too complicated for middle management, and the way government buys, saying "the whole point of G-Cloud was to break away from the hideousness of old boys' networks and closed procurement systems."
She asked herself, "What are we doing wrong?"
Government Computing spoke to a number of other suppliers that expressed some sympathy for the points raised, arguing that a review may be long overdue and questioning how competitive the mechanism was for smaller companies.
In response Nicky Stewart, commercial director for Skyscape Cloud Services, spoke in defence of the framework, which she said had "opened the door for Skyscape and thousands of other UK SMEs, when there was no other door."
Stewart argued that the framework was a much needed route to providing public sector buyers with access to suppliers and services that did not previously exist.
"It's saving the tax-payer millions of pounds and its sales are growing month on month and now exceed £1bn. Skyscape grew with G-Cloud and has created over 130 jobs. Many other UK SMEs have reported growth that can be directly attributed to G-Cloud," she said.
"G-Cloud cannot solve all government's IT challenges - such as the vast legacy estate that must either be retired or transformed - nor is it an instant antidote to government's commercial and procurement challenges. G-Cloud is a marketplace, and like any other marketplace, there is no guarantee that a vendor will win business."
Reaffirming the company's commitment to the framework, Stewart spoke of the importance of the discovery phase for G-Cloud 9 that was intended to try and bring "significant changes" to how the framework functions compared to its eight previous iterations.
"G-Cloud isn't perfect, and never will be. However, it would be a disservice to G-Cloud, its buyers and suppliers, to suggest that [the framework] is a fundamentally broken model," she said. "There will always be winners and losers, but none of us should ever lose sight of where we all were in 2009, when government started to think about cloud. The world is very different now."