Cloud is First and it’s Native to the Public Sector Already

Cloud is First and it’s Native to the Public Sector Already

By Lewis Hughes
17 March 2017

Software Europe’s Chief Sales Officer, Deborah Saunby, shares her views on GDS’ move from ‘cloud first’ to ‘cloud native’ and her experience in working with local government, central government, the NHS and the attitudes to cloud technology, G-Cloud and Digital Transformation.

Back in 2013, GDS published a policy that said all public sector buyers of IT products should consider the cloud as their first option, hence ‘cloud first’. That policy hasn’t changed, but according to GDS it is no longer its aspiration. That aspiration is now ‘cloud native’.

It was announced in a blog post earlier this month, which is well worth a read. It puts forward a broad definition of the term ‘cloud’ and SaaS. The stand out comment for me was; “We should empower everyone in an organisation to help us become more effective in technology by letting staff members trial new SaaS applications.”

As a provider of cloud technology to the public sector, it was like music to my ears and I’m sure other cloud, and SaaS, providers felt the same as me. But, I wanted to share my thoughts on what we actually see on the ground, so to speak.

Overwhelmingly, our experience is that the public sector has moved beyond ‘cloud first’ already and they are now cloud natives. We speak with people at all levels, and in some way, shape or form, cloud touches their lives already, either at home or at work. They’re so used to cloud now that when they’re looking for new technology and solutions, cloud isn’t just the first choice to them, it’s the only choice.

We’re no longer seeing tenders that specifically stipulate whether the organisation is looking for a cloud solution or not. The assumption seems to be that it’s always going to be a cloud solution they’re looking for, unless they specifically state it has to be in premise.

G-Cloud

We’re definitely seeing things start to move faster through G-Cloud as well, although I still feel there are a few issues with it. We’ve seen a marked increase in tenders for cloud services. But, we’ve had tenders from large central government organisations intending to go through G-Cloud also run their own, separate cloud procurement process too.

It’s very common for us to see local and central government departments procure this way. It’s a duplication of effort for both them and for those answering the tenders too.

But in G-Cloud 9, [due in March 2017], the aim is to “help suppliers describe their services more clearly…by doing this it will be easier for buyers to find what they need”. A much needed improvement. 

If you’re a government department looking for an expenses solution, for example, or employee relations software, you’re represented with a wall of responses, so for them to use G-Cloud, they need to go through further processes to narrow requirements. I think that’s at least one of the reasons why we’re seeing a duplication of effort.

Digital transformation

There are still so many pieces of paper floating around in government – printing of invoices, service forms, disciplinary or HR documents, or potentially any technology that transforms businesses through cloud technology – that, in our experience, can’t be completely changed in 12 months. 

I love the idea of digital transformation, but you need a really strong leader to be able to successfully push this through from start to finish. There’s no magic wand that can be waved and it’s all done in one go – it needs to be done piecemeal.

And I think that’s where GDS really has got its strategy for cloud native spot on. The language they’ve used and the approach they seem to be taking is that they understand every paper-process could potentially be digitised, but it can’t all be done by one provider. 

So the approach that encourages public sector staff to trial new SaaS and cloud applications means that every employee becomes an agent for digital transformation in some way or other.

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