G-Cloud 8 goes live on the Digital Marketplace
Framework supplier Fujitsu welcomes agreement’s impact on public sector procurement; argues improvements can be made around feedback and local government awareness
The eighth iteration of the G-Cloud framework has gone live this week as part of an ongoing process to try and significantly reform the procurement of cloud commodity services in the public sector.
Launching yesterday (August 1), one key supplier included on the latest version of the agreement expects G-Cloud 8 to continue to serve as a vital means of engagement for suppliers and customers in the public sector.
Steven Cox, public sector head for Fujitsu UK and Ireland, has argued that the agreement offers a number of benefits to organisations looking to overcome challenges around service efficiency, budgeting and innovation, as well as ensuring data security.
However, he said it was possible that more could be done to improve transparency with regard to providing data and feedback to support a better understanding of buyers’ needs, as well as improving overall local government awareness about how the framework functions.
Cox added that while overall cloud deployment across government had arguably been less than expected, G-Cloud has supported the company’s efforts to reach out to a broader number of organisations, such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
He claimed that between 20% and 30% of the company’s overall spend is going to SMEs, a figure expected to be mirrored in Fujitsu’s public sector operations, reflecting the importance of collaborative approaches to support public service innovation.
With an eye towards the future launch of G-Cloud 9, which is expected to undergo significant user consultation in order to overhaul the service, Cox suggested that a more comprehensive means of delivering feedback and data to suppliers would be useful. Effectively providing greater understanding of more successful approaches to providing services through the agreement.
He argued that doing so might allow for companies to better align with the needs of the public sector.
According to the most recent statistics on the framework, total lifetime spend through G-Cloud has reached £1.26bn with 77% of total demand coming from central government bodies.
Cox noted that awareness raising among local authorities was therefore seen as an important factor in order to address potential concerns about the limitations of the framework, as well as playing up possible benefits with regard to procurement.
Other considerations could also include reviewing whether existing terms and conditions may be meeting the needs of local government and smaller organisations.
“We would welcome awareness raising efforts for non-central government bodies around framework use," he said.
Outside of the more established suppliers on the framework, G-Cloud 8 has a number of first time engagements with suppliers, including a blockchain platform-as-a-service company called Credits.
Building on the company’s work with authorities in the Isle of Man, the company’s CEO, Nick Williamson, said that working to understand the needs of the UK public sector for cloud services had proved a challenging, yet rewarding process as part of the process of getting on G-Cloud 8.
Having earlier this year entered into a partnership with UKCloud, formerly known as supplier Skyscape, Williamson said the company hoped to be able to offer secure and interoperable distributed ledger technologies (DLTs), such as those used to support digital currencies such as Bitcoin.
In a first for G-Cloud, five companies now offer services based around technologies based on blockchain, which is a distributed ledger that functions as a database to record financial, physical, or electronic assets through a network that is required to undergo a fully transparent update process.
Having just entered into its first engagement with G-Cloud, Williamson said it remained too early to compare or look at how the framework may be improved to better meet SME and customer needs for the company. He instead praised the agreement for opening up public sector procurement to young start ups in areas normally dominated exclusively by larger suppliers.
The tender process for G-Cloud 8 had been extended earlier this year for a few days as a means to update documentation, such as the framework agreement and call-off contracts, to address some supplier issues and concerns.
This delay came after high-profile criticisms of the framework from the founder of cloud hosting provider Memset, Kate Craig-Wood, who expressed disenchantment with how G-Cloud was functioning based on the level of investment the company had put in to meet compliance and security requirements.
Other suppliers maintained that the framework was much needed to provide public sector buyers with better access to suppliers and services that did not previously exist, although they accepted further changes were needed as development continues with G-Cloud 9.