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Confused, pessimistic on G-Cloud? You must work in government

VMware's ex-G-Cloud man's cure: communication

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Confusion and pessimism about the government’s G-Cloud and ICT plans is widespread among civil servants running the nation’s technology .

A VMware survey of more than 180 senior public sector IT staff found 63 per cent doubt the Cabinet Office will be able to hit its stated spending goals on cloud computing.

Nearly half of IT staff – 43 per cent – said they couldn’t identify the kind of savings that they might personally achieve from cloud computing.

That government’s stated goal is for 50 per cent of new IT spending to go on public cloud services by 2015, with the cost of government data centres cut by 35 per cent by 2016.

VMware also found that 59 per cent of senior IT staff were undecided on whether to use the G-Cloud’s flagship Cloudstore when the catalogue of services was launched in February – the time of the survey. Thirty-one per cent reckoned they would use Cloudstore.

There’s also uncertainty over whether the G-Cloud framework will deliver on the Cabinet Office’s stated goals of IT cost savings, easier procurement, increased security and the ability to deliver better services to government and citizens.

Almost half (46 per cent) said they are unsure about whether the G-Cloud framework will actually deliver cost savings and along with the other benefits versus 34 per cent who said it would.

The survey did, however, find a strong current of support for the aims and direction of G-Cloud.

Ex-G-Cloud director Andy Tait, who last year stepped down to become VMware’s head of public sector strategy, said the government must do more to work to win this support and overcome scepticism and pessimism using improved communication.

Of course, he might say that: while VMware is not listed in Cloudstore as a supplier, its technologies are available through the Skyscape Cloud Alliance.

To improve the level of communications, Tait said the government must go beyond preaching to the converted through the blogs and Twitter, popular among the Cabinet Office’s cadres, and reach out to government computing types through established channels.

Tait told The Reg: “[The Cabinet Office] needs to get behind some of the clear messages they have made statements about... They need to get behind that at above the board level through the conference network and engage though CIO council, and not just the Twitter network.”

Also, Tait reckoned the government must clarify the rules on security – making it clear what data can go to suppliers overseas and that organisations can use the same service or supplier, rather than simply replicating what another department has done.

“Today you can have 10 organisations looking at the same utility and replicating the work of the analysis. G-Cloud was about how [to] build trust among the individual accounting officers and CIOs in each organisation [so that they will] accept the decisions of similarly responsible individuals in other organisations so we don’t replicate activities,” Tait said.

More case studies and practical examples of government departments and local authorities making the changes are needed, too.

“In many organisations there are individuals struggling with trying to overcome the barrier to adapt to cloud ... it’s about encouraging the bold innovators to stand up those initial services in a way they can be consumed by other parts of the public sector,“ he said.

Many obstacles to adoption include maintaining legacy systems and government being locked into existing, multi-year contracts with IT suppliers.

Despite this, Tait reckons we are on the cusp of a “fundamental change” and that the next year to 18 months will see “an awful lot of movement” and inertia overtaken". He said the biggest hurdle, of bringing hearts and minds to the view that cloud is the right direction, had been overcome. Tait said that it is now simply a matter of speed of adoption by different departments and sections of government. ®

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