New Signature has signed a two-year deal with the Metropolitan Police to support its public cloud.
The contract was awarded through the G-Cloud framework and is part of the Met’s three-year digital policing strategy. For those who came in late, the strategy seeks to modernise technology for users in the force and improve the general public’s digital access to the police.
New Signature said the deal is “one of the largest” G-Cloud procurements to date was not saying how much cash was involved.
New Signature founder Dan Scarfe said that the deal was an important momement for the Met in terms of moving their digital work to the cloud and in moving away from their traditional global system integrator (GSI) partners who would normally have scored the project.
He claimed the Met’s move to the public cloud comes from a desire to address the lack of speed and agility it experienced using traditional datacentres and GSIs.
Scarfe added the deal is transformational for New Signature, opening up a range of new markets and customers for the cloud service provider.
Angus McCallum, CIO for the Metropolitan Police, said: “We are very pleased to have selected New Signature to help us as we start to develop and implement our ‘Cloud-First Strategy’ transition.
“The Met is committed to ensuring all our people have the right technology to do their jobs with excellence and New Signature’s involvement is a critical part of building our capability and achieving fast results.”
Earlier this month the government back-tracked on the G-Cloud 10 delay and stated that the £600 million framework would be launched this year.
It has now released a provisional timetable for G-Cloud 10 which starts on 18 April when G-Cloud 10 opens for applications and allows clarification questions.
The deadline for asking clarification questions is 5pm on Wednesday 9 May and the answers will be published on 16 May.
Answers to clarification questions will be published on the Digital Marketplace on 23 May and applications for G-Cloud 10 will close on 18 June.
Applicants will be told if their application to G-Cloud 10 was successful between 18 and 29 June and the framework agreement will start on 2 July.
Apparently, the dates are approximate and subject to change. G-Cloud 9 services will be removed when G-Cloud 10 services go live.
This follows a similar turnaround with the G-Cloud framework earlier this month. The DOS framework launched initially in 2016 to replace the Digital Services framework, which came in for criticism from suppliers.
DOS 3 will open for bids in July and is expected to go live in September.
Niall Quinn, director at CCS, said: “We have listened to feedback from suppliers and customers and decided to go ahead with re-letting Digital Outcomes and Specialists in line with our original timescales.
“This will give customers access to the very latest services, and ensures that current suppliers and new bidders, including smaller businesses, have the chance to work with the public sector.”
CCS said that £280 million had been spent through DOS since its launch, with the current version of the framework having 2,000 partners – 94 percent of which were SMEs.
In November Crown Commercial Service (CCS) extended G-Cloud 9 by up to a year, meaning the framework could have run for an unprecedented two-year period. This meant that suppliers would not have been able to add new services to their offering, or update pricing.
CCS has, however, today announced a U-turn, with G-Cloud 10 opening for £600 million worth of bids in April.
Oliver Dowden, minister for implementation, said: “I’m pleased to confirm that we will re-let the G-Cloud framework, which provides opportunities to many small businesses in the digital sector.
“This will provide innovative online solutions to government, supporting the delivery of efficient, effective public services. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, so it’s crucial that we listen to them when shaping policy, as we have done today.”
It appears that suppliers managed to lean on the government and get it to change its mind.
There does not appear to be any significant changes to G-Cloud for the tenth version, except for the possibility that the Cyber Security Services framework may be brought back into the G-Cloud.
The cost of not delaying the new programme was that the governing body is unlikely to have had a chance to make the sweeping changes after feedback from customers.
However, despite the fact that G-Cloud was supposed to give contracts to smaller suppliers more than half of the spending by government and public sector organisations is still going to large suppliers.
In fact since 2012 and 31 December 2017, G-Cloud has facilitated £2.85 billion of spending – with 52 percent of this going to what the government classifies as large suppliers.
SME suppliers have cashed in 48 percent of total sales through G-Cloud, but this has come from 71 percent of the deals put through the framework.
To be fair, the figures are a slight improvement for SMEs since the last time data was released, with numbers published for the period up to 31 July showing that just 47 percent of spending was going them.
Last week the government revealed that over £3.2 billion had been spent by the public sector on digital services through G-Cloud and two other frameworks – Digital Outcomes Specialists and Digital Services.
It is saying that G-Cloud 9 is being extended past its May 2018 expiry date as G-10 stalled.
In a message sent to suppliers today, CCS confirmed that G-Cloud 9 will be extended for a period of “up to 12 months”, with the expiry date now set for “on or before” 21 May 2019.
The note said: “The decision to extend G-Cloud has not been taken lightly. It will allow time for CCS and GDS to deliver a revolutionary transformation to the platform to meet user needs – for suppliers and buyers both central government and wider public sector.
“Previously, we have undertaken continuous and regular refreshes for each of the individual agreements. However, this hasn’t always given us adequate time for the Digital Marketplace to be developed beyond simply the refresh of these agreements, to meet user needs.
“More time is now needed to transform the platform and make it scalable and more flexible, enabling more framework services and improved customer and supplier functionality based on what user needs have identified.”
That’s from The government’s Digital Future Twitter page, which added that G-Cloud 9 had been extended to give time to enable wider functionality improvements.
Along with G-Cloud, the Digital Outcomes and Specialist 2 framework, and Cyber Securities Services 2 framework have also been extended until 2019.
The move will allow the 70 percent of suppliers who are yet to make a sale on G-Cloud 9 a bit longer.
Large suppliers have taken 53 percent of the £2.4 billion spending all spending through G-Cloud and account for the lion’s share of spend through G-Cloud, according to figures from Crown Commercial Service (CCS) released today.
This is a significant jump on the 44 percent of spend large suppliers accounted for when CCS released data in January, when the overall sales figure stood at £1.7 billion.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson suggested that at least some of the difference could be explained by the fact that some SME suppliers on G-Cloud were reclassified following their expansion.
“We have improved the way we manage our data and we know that a number of suppliers have grown beyond SME status over the reporting period”, the spokesman said.
“Today we published figures that show SMEs have delivered over £1.2 billion of cloud and digital services for government and the public sector since 2012. This means that almost half of digital spend, or £1.39 in every £3, is going to SMEs – giving a major boost to the technology SME sector.”
It is also possible that larger suppliers are now beginning to take the government’s frameworks more seriously.
Larger suppliers had avoided the frameworks because they were public and that would mean showing their price lists to the public domain.
Now government has since admitted it stuffed up the numbers and there is nothing to worry about.
The figures were important because they show the success of a scheme which was supposed to give IT contracts to smaller suppliers rather than a single large supplier which might have a powerful lobby group.
The government publishes G-Cloud figures periodically, and the most recent data up to October, published before Christmas, shows that in that month, spending through the framework was just £38 million – down 22 per cent annually, down 45 per cent on a monthly basis, and far below the average monthly spend on the framework for 2016 (January to October) of £59.7 million.
In fact the framework’s spending has not been this low since May 2015. However it is expected that the shortfall to be made up in the coming months as departments use their budgets before they expire.
The Cabinet Office confirmed that the data for October does not reflect any Brexit-related slowdown, but was in fact an administrative error. The correct data is expected to be uploaded shortly.
The government hit on the idea of G-Cloud to encourage small vendors to pitch against the larger IT companies by using an online “App Store”.
But Memset founder Kate Craig-Wood – who became involved in 2009 – said the plan is falling short.
Writing in her bog she said: “We passionately believed in the dream of G-Cloud and kept doing so despite the goalposts being repeatedly moved, the marketplace continuing not to function properly and buyers continuing to behave in the same old ways.”
Since 2011, the G-Cloud has totalled more than £1 billion in sales, which is more than enough to get the government spinners claiming it is a success. But it would appear that some
However, the Infrastructure-as-a-service sector in which Craig-Wood operates has been tricky than other areas of the framework, which don’t need so much supplier investment.
Memset has had to make huge investments to job through the government’s hoops on security. It has had to invest £2 million on a high-security data centre.
But if you invest you should get more money back right? Memset only saw a return of £100,000 per year and no new business since 2013.
Now it is getting too late for small business. Microsoft and Amazon cloud services will knock all the small providers out of the market because they can produce economies of scale. The government is not really interested in propping up the small businesses, it wants to reduce the costs. It also is not moving much stuff to the cloud as it originally thought.
Craig-Wood thinks that the old procurement practices are still at work and this requires armies of sales teams to tackle. This was exactly the sort of thing that G-Cloud was supposed to bring to an end.
G-Cloud 7 went live this week, and according to the award notice, the number of suppliers on the scheme reached 1,615, up 11 per cent on the 1,453 which were accredited on G-Cloud 6.
For those who came in late, the UK Government G-Cloud is an initiative targeted at easing procurement by government departments for cloud systems. The G-Cloud consists of is a series of framework agreements with suppliers, from which public sector organisations can buy services without needing to run a full tender or competition.
It started in 2012 and by May 2013 there were over 700 suppliers—over 80% of which were small and medium enterprises.
As you would expect, G-Cloud 7 has the usual suspects such as SCC, Computacenter, Kelway, Memset, Agilisys, Skyscape and Liberata.
Initially there were some problems after suppliers moaned about the framework placing restrictions on how much they can scale up their services, but it looked like the expected boycott never happened.
This is probably because filling in the paperwork for a G-Cloud application takes months and once you started you might as well finish.
But the strange thing about the framework is that few will make much dosh on it unless their sales teams are entirely focused on G-Cloud business.
The top IT software and service providers earn roughly £10.4 billion a year through public sector contracting. That said, public IT projects are known for their disastrous implementation and frequent high profile bungles. Top providers often lock the public sector into excessively long contracts which must be seen to the end, and in some cases drag on even longer.
This is not a phenomenon specific to the UK. The public sector often finds itself duped into taking on bloated contracts that arguably provide little value for money, and serve more as a cash-cow for funnelling public money into private pockets without noticeable gains or efficiencies to the public.
The OFT announced that it wants to ensure market competition is up to scratch so that all firms can, at least, bid for projects without contracts automatically going to the biggest players.
“Healthy competition in any market drives down costs, drives up efficiency and promotes innovation,” an OFT statement read. “While a lack of competition can hinder productivity and, in turn, economic growth”.
G-cloud, a government project to open up procurement away from the the IT giants and offer SMEs a fighting chance, has been fairly successful but elsewhere the big hitters still dominate.
Phil Dawson, CEO of Skyscape Cloud Services, offered his comments on the investigation. “For far too long, IT giants and incumbent suppliers have been allowed to reign supreme,” Dawson said. “It is precisely this dominance that has created a stagnant public sector market, which is exactly what the G-cloud programme was established to tackle”.
“Through G-Cloud, public sector organisations are able to avoid inflexible contracts and the locked-in clauses which have been all too common with some of the big incumbent providers,” Dawson said.
The OFT will be examining whether there are barriers stopping smaller businesses from competing, as well as the difficulties associated in the public sector for switching suppliers.
This review aims to look specifically at if market supply is hampering competition rather than a general overview of public IT.
An approach oriented along the lines of G-Cloud would certainly be welcomed by British SMEs, as these companies can offer services that do not lean as heavily on the public purse.
To push further still, perhaps it is worth exploring open source products and services as other flexible, and potentially far cheaper, options.
A reorientation in public IT towards smaller firms, however, could easily upset top corporate lobbyists of the biggest businesses. A push towards open source alternatives would agitate even more.
Oracle’s claims that it will be opening a data centre to support the UK government’s G Cloud service for the public sector are perfectly true, but appear to be designed as a boon to Oracle rather than the UK as a whole.
While G Cloud could, of course, always do with more power, an Oracle spokesperson confirmed to ChannelEye that the data centre will primarily be for existing or potential Oracle partners.
“Oracle will make Platform as a Service available to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs),” the spokesperson said. “Oracle’s PaaS provides Oracle Database and Java as a service, hence will be available to ISVs who run on this Oracle platform”.
“These ISVs will likely be existing Oracle partners, but we of course welcome new partners to join the Oracle Partner Network,” the spokesperson added. “The ISVs themselves need to have their cloud services accepted onto the CloudStore catalogue”.
Although presented as a helpful boost to the British economy, the plan appears to be fully Oracle’s with a light dab of spin.
“This investment is funded solely by Oracle,” the spokesperson said, “justified through our internal business case criteria and assessment of market opportunity, and is being made in advance of any contracts or orders from government”.