In 2012 the UK government launched G-Cloud, a framework designed to make procurement of cloud computing services by public sector bodies easier and more accessible. Its main purpose was to allow public sector organisations to get the services that they needed for a more competitive price and with reduced procurement cost.
G-Cloud has made the process of procurement much simpler and faster by allowing public sector organisations to buy services without going through the full tender process. Suppliers apply to be on the digital marketplace and are vetted by the Government Digital Service (GDS) before being added to the list of approved suppliers. Each supplier puts in place a set of fully-specified services for approval by the GDS. These are accompanied by a simplified “call-off” contract that significantly reduces the paperwork on all sides.
G-Cloud is, essentially, a supermarket for cloud-based IT. There are shelves and shelves of different services that organisations can go in and buy, from a ready-made chat service, a suite of desktop productivity tools, or warm cloud storage. It has everything you need to get you up and running without having to own and manage racks of hardware – and there's a bouncer on the door checking your ID to make sure you're from the public sector.
G-Cloud consists of four different service categories known as “lots”:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This section is where clients can self provision servers and storage. This is mainly used for processing storage and machines, the core resources needed to provide a virtual IT service. In this case the client will have control over OS, storage, deployed applications, and may have some control over the network.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
This category includes a huge variety of services, from backup solutions, virtual desktop infrastructure, productivity tools and messaging, to major business applications. The companies include software vendors like Zengenti (with our Contensis CMS) together with many sellers of commodity tools like Wordpress. When a client takes on one of these services they won’t have control of the underlying cloud infrastructure – just the deployed service itself.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
These are applications that run in the cloud. The applications are available from various devices that the client owns and in different locations. These include CMSs such as our own product, Contensis.
Specialist Cloud Services (SCS)
Suppliers can also offer people-based services, usually expressed as a day-rate basis. These are the professional back-up activities – training, configuration, development – that enable users to get the most out of the software or platform they’ve contracted for.
G-Cloud is a fantastic idea, enabling companies from far and wide, large and small, to compete on a level playing field. Organisations have better access to products from smaller companies who might lack the advertising budget to compete with larger vendors. These smaller companies might offer products and services that are a better fit for certain public sector organisations. G-Cloud helps public sector organisations find these products and services.
We have been on G-Cloud since October 2012 and in the last three years we have seen the platform grow in popularity with organisations that want to bypass a lengthy tender process. G-Cloud is a fantastic resource and a great blueprint for the future of procurement across a wide range of sectors.