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Cloud Store: Next wave of services due by April

Public sector organisations to 'rate' suppliers

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G-Cloud bigwig Chris Chant has confirmed the second wave of Cloud Store services will go live in April and that public sector customers will finally be able to rate suppliers, helping to shore up the flaky accreditation process.

The Cloud Store has come in for a fair share of criticism – as well as applause – after its speedy roll-out, with some claiming the online catalogue was released to market too early as none of the services had been tested or certified prior to launch.

This is a dramatic shift from previous government supplier frameworks which included a laborious multi-stage tender process before bidding companies were approved.

Chant, director of the G-Cloud, said the framework was designed to make it easy for public sector organisations to buy commodity services through a low-cost procurement model that did not require suppliers to meet government security checks.

"We are encouraging an 'accredit once, use everywhere' approach - that means that the first customer of a service steers their supplier through accreditation and then the rest of government can adopt the service without needing to carry out further checks."

There are 1,700 services included in the Cloud Store but as of last week one-fifth had yet to be accredited or assured. The framework is designed to offer transparency but customers cannot yet compare the price of like-for-like services.

"Customers will be able to compare services (for the first time) as well as (coming soon) rate them," said Chant.

The length of contracts, capped at a maximum of 12 months, was criticised last week by storage integrator Proact, warning that frequent renegotiations would lead to suppliers charging a premium for services.

Chant said: "We are encouraging short contracts with complete portability – if it doesn't work out, the customer can move to a different supplier".

Fifty per cent of the 250-plus suppliers that made it onto Cloud Store were SMEs and this too is a break from the old way of doing things.

"Suppliers operating within the oligopoly would charge the earth for their custom services and their 'revenue protection officers' would ensure the potential cost of service credits was, anyway, factored into the bid. If, by some miracle, the service worked as designed then that reserve went straight to profit."

The first BuyCamp is taking place on Thursday, highlighting the types of services that are available on Cloud Store to the 30 public sector organisations attending, as well as the ways to use the services and how to overcome "inevitable" challenges. ®

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