UK government opens CloudStore procurement system

Small technology suppliers are among 258 firms included in the UK government’s new CloudStore, a system designed to make the process of selecting software services simpler and, crucially cheaper for public sector procurement officers.

 The online catalogue of services represents the first wave of the UK’s £60m ‘G-Cloud’ framework, and allows public sector IT departments to choose from around 1700 online ‘pay-as-you-go’ services.

For smaller providers, the system comes as a welcome break from the traditional tendering process, dominated by key tech players, and allows smaller firms to ply their wares to the public sector from an equal footing.

The e-marketplace is split into four sections: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and specialist cloud services. UK Cabinet Office minister Francis Maud said the system would make procurement “quicker, easier, cheaper and more transparent for the public sector and suppliers alike”.

“By creating a competitive marketplace, the G-Cloud framework will constantly encourage service providers to improve the quality and value of the solutions they offer, reducing the cost to taxpayers and suppliers,” he added. “And it gives SME suppliers of niche products the same opportunities as bigger organisations supplying services.”

While the regular big names do appear in the list, like IBM, HP Atos and BT, around half of the suppliers are smaller firms. The system was built by UK-based SME and Microsoft specialist Solidsoft, and is hosted on Microsoft's cloud service, Windows Azure.

Around 600 suppliers pitched to be included in the initiative. Angelo Di Ventura, Group Sales and Marketing Director, at Trustmarpue, a UK reseller providing six propositions to the CloudStore, called the project a welcome development in public sector procurement.

“It levels the playing field for SMEs wishing to provide services to the public sector and will also deliver demonstrable cost savings,” he said. “G-Cloud is far more open and accessible than previous frameworks and will deliver far better value to public sector buyers.”

“The UK Government is becoming more innovative when it comes to IT procurement,” says Chris Purrington, Managing Director of CohesiveFT UK, selected to offer services for migration, networking, and orchestration. “The adoption of cloud computing on the server side will reap benefits from the economies of sharing, increased utilisation and lower cost, as well as increased responsiveness and flexibility.

Last year, the UK Public Administration Select committee said the government was wasting ‘an obscene amount of money’, on failed IT projects with an ‘oligopoly’ of big suppliers.

“Using cloud solutions that have already been secured and accredited will almost always be less expensive, and we will only pay for what we use,” said Francis Maude. “We will also know from the outset the cost of the product and, importantly, the cost of exit from contracts that will be no longer than 12 months.”

See the full lists of CloudStore suppliers below:  

Infrastructure-as-a-service suppliers

Software-as-a-service suppliers

Platform-as-a-service suppliers

Specialist cloud suppliers

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