I have been involved in the G-Cloud project almost from the beginning. As the technical co-lead on Phase two of the project, proposing the detailed architecture (on the Cabinet Office Web site) for the G-Cloud and helping to shape the core principles that we felt were vital to ensure its success.
That it would not be a “thing”, but instead a collection of cloud infrastructures, services and applications, probably mostly provided by private sector but with some public sector in there too, all bound together by open standards cloud APIs with an app store and services interchange at the heart.
To now see almost 500 suppliers using the CloudStore where IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and other cloud services can be procured in as little as six minutes, is incredibly humbling. With almost 74% of suppliers SMBs including channel players Trustmarque, Computacenter, Kelway, Bytes and Softcat all being featured, is there a place for channel suppliers in the G-Cloud?
Personally, I’m surprised not to see more channel suppliers signed up to the G-Cloud’s CloudStore, after all, some of these businesses have become trusted partners for the public sector, supplying not only IT infrastructure, but software and other associated services too. Their ability to deliver Servers, Storage, Networking, Security and Virtualisation infrastructure, puts them in a strong position as the public sector rapidly moves towards cloud.
There are definitely opportunities for channel players in the G-Cloud. Where it was originally thought that the cloud movement (aka. centralisation or IT-services-over-the-wire) would put hosting companies like us out of business, the shift has only changed who our main customers are. So too will be the case for G-Cloud.
For example, we are seeing a lot more business from channel suppliers who want to use our infrastructure as the back-bone for their SaaS – we can run the IT layer much more effectively than most operators, since for almost all applications the actual required hardware is fairly small in terms of number of machines these days (thanks to Moore’s Law).
Another area where channel partners can contribute to the success of the G-Cloud is through security. There are still some common concerns that arise when migrating to the cloud – lack of understanding and worries about cloud security – the channel can really help with this transition.
Generally software suppliers and development companies don’t want to have to offer a host provision themselves and G-Cloud is all about SME suppliers playing to their strengths rather than trying to be all things to all people. This means there are opportunities for collaboration and partnerships for suppliers amongst themselves to plug any of these gaps.
Where to Start?
If you’re a channel supplier and wondering if you should dip your toe into the G-Cloud project, there is still time and plenty of options. The public sector are able to procure a wide range of services through the CloudStore, including the services you probably already offer, such as storage, back up, hosted email and much more.
Whilst the 2nd iteration of the G-Cloud allows for contracts of up to 24 months, channel suppliers who keep in mind the premise of G-Cloud, to offer services purely on a “pay as you go” basis and without contracts and punitive charges, these are likely to be the real winners in the CloudStore. With a third iteration planned before Christmas, there is plenty of time to get on board.