Many thanks to Computerworld’s outsource guru blogger Martyn Hart for reminding me about G-Cloud. Lest we forget, the Cabinet Office has ploughed this furrow with unblinking determination for a while now and supported, for once, by unassailable logic is getting close to delivery.
The ultra-imperative, the uber-driving force of the project is the repeated and utter humiliation of serial IT failures in the Public Sector. Nothing hurts quite like derision and someone, not so long ago, cried ‘enough’.
Many will be cut altogether but eventually the survivors will be standardised on one technological platform. No guessing which asp will bite the breast.
Politics aside, make no mistake, a revolution in public sector IT (which includes education) is in the making. Revolutions are funny things, one day you are bimbling along as if nothing has changed then all of a sudden everything has changed..that’s the game we are playing now.
For example it took over £200 million and several years to set up the ‘every child matters so long as it’s on our database’ project. It was finally launched this March with a £41 million annual ongoing cost...this August morning it’s switched off...whoa.
I fully expect by early 2011 for there to be a public sector common IT infrastructure based on cheap web tech...G-Cloud complete with a G-base, a G-App store and ( as presaged in last blog) a G-Book store, no wonder they need Martha Lane Fox to promote faster broadband!
What does this mean? Really so what?
The end of lots of things.
It means quite simply the end of the institutional LAN and its hordes of support technicians in schools and local authorities; it means the end of expensive desktop application licences; it means the end of profiteering text book publishing; there will be no more pretty, underused and overpriced web sites; it means the end of ultra-bloated incompatible databases...squillybillions saved....
...but above all it means that there will be a....
..massive cool hardware spending spree! ...yippee
The buying of lots of shiny things
Come on, have you not noticed? There has been another revolution or two. One pioneered by the i-Phone. Love them or hate them, Apple sure has 20:20 futurovision. Those blessed slidey fingers stroking thousands of apps no-one had thought anyone wanted are simply everywhere.
The other revolution pioneered by Amazon is the dinky e-book. This year e-book sales outstripped paper in the US (I read on-line somewhere). Soon e-INK will be full colour then it’ll go head to head with large format OLED screens..how much more innovtion can you stand?
The teacher offering kids Word on an XP beige box does looks more hip replacement than ‘hip’ small surprise that the Royal Society’s recent report on ICT in schools found it ‘dull’.
Have you not noticed that the BBC web site (and even dare I say, this august publication) have had web redesigns that neatly fit Apples giant i-Phone format. For goodness sake, even RIM (of Blackberry fame) have their own slate in the wings. Probably even rich doddery old Microsoft will make a competitor (of real slate?) of note soon.
All are web facing.
Consumption of stuff based on writing, whether it’s illustrated with pictures and moving pictures or not, is ‘where it’s at dude’ ...always was always will be...that’s why we teach kids to read. It’s just that how we consume this thing that is changing.
But there again, Apple and Amazon in the public sector?..oh no I don’t think so.
New Tech in schools and the public sector.
We will all be buying slate format, web access devices...but which ones?
It is I think, very unlikely that what is probably the ultimate statement of overpriced individualism, namely Apple products, would form the back-bone of any public sector or educational procurement process.
But given that public stuff will be G-Cloud based (ie webby) you could optionally buy your own super shiny access device... but if it’s bought for you, by your social services dept or school, then it won't be Apple, trust me.
So it will have to be based either on Windows or Android, which will it be?
Open Source wins at Last
Okay so life will soon be very simple indeed. To access public resources you will need a web enabled device. Ideally this will be a comfortable e-reader as well as supporting the usual must-have applications (e-mail, IM and GIS).
The question is as posed above if the state buys it for your work/study what will power it?
Now cynic that I am, even last year I would have had no hesitation in saying that Microsoft would provide the platform no matter how bad. But this time they are just so behind the curve in slate-apps it seems inconceivable..old style National Health Specs are their equivalent.
It cant be Apple for the reasons stated above (or indeed RIM for similar arguments) so it must be Android. Oh gosh!
That means at last Open Source wins at last.
Expect the state run IT sector to be a private G-Cloud run by the likes of IBM, Cisco and Fujitsu using Red Hat and VMware and accessed by Android powered web slates.