The government is “fully expecting” Amazon and Salesforce.com to sign up to the G-Cloud framework, according to the new head of the G-Cloud.
The two cloud companies were noticeable in their absence from the initial list of more than 250 suppliers accepted in the first phase of the G-Cloud framework. The suppliers have made up to 1,700 different commodity cloud services available on the Cloudstore web catalogue, which launched in February.
“I am fully expecting Amazon and Salesforce to be on the G-Cloud too,” said Denise McDonagh, director of ICT for the Home Office and deputy programme lead for the G-Cloud, during a UKAuthorITy.com ITU webinar today.
She explained that the companies had been put off bidding to provide services in the initial version of the G-Cloud framework by the government’s complex terms and conditions.
“Some of the language in there [terms and conditions] gave their legal people in the States [some concern] about the right to audit their data centres.
“We’ve explained the practicalities [of what we would and are able to do] and they’re now much more at ease with what we want to do,” said McDonagh.
The difficulty in understanding the G-Cloud framework’s terms and conditions was one of the key lessons that the government learned from the initial phase.
McDonagh said that despite blogging, Tweeting and running ‘camps’ (such as AccreditCamp and BuyCamp) to educate suppliers and help them bid for a place on the framework, not enough information was getting out about what the government was trying to achieve, and not enough feedback was being captured.
Another challenge was that the framework was bringing in a whole range of new suppliers who had never worked with government before, and therefore found the language and acronyms used in its terms and conditions alien.
“We reduced the terms and conditions from 100 to 20 pages but we still got some of the language wrong,” McDonagh admitted.
Consequently, the government will be running more BuyCamps and it also has an ‘Ask Mike’ service that suppliers can use to email their queries.
In addition, in response to criticism from smaller suppliers about the short contract lengths available under the framework, McDonagh said that the government is working on a “tick-box exercise” that will allow customers of cloud services to simply tick a box to renew their contract if they want to continue with the service at the price offered.
However, there has been a delay in the second iteration of the G-Cloud framework, which was due to go live in this month. It is now set to appear at the beginning of May.
This is because the government is still working on how to make it simpler for SMEs to get involved, McDonagh said.
According to McDonagh, 20 to 30 services have been sold so far from the CloudStore. Customers include the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).