Category Archives: Value

Dedicated Cloud servers make a difference says Puma

By Tony Collins

Jay Basnight, the head of digital strategy at sports shoe and sportswear manufacturer Puma, has told CIO how his company moved from four cloud suppliers – Amazon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Rackspace and Slicehost (now part of Rackspace) –  to cloud supplier Eucalyptus.

Eucalyptus provides Puma with dedicated servers rather than spreading the company’s data and applications across servers used by other businesses, as is the case at Amazon, says Basnight. That helps make privacy audits easier because he can point to a specific server where data resides.

“This allows you peace of mind that you’re not sharing infrastructure with anyone else.”

Consolidating clouds saves “significant” money says Basnight – as much as 50 percent per hour due to better contract terms and economies of scale.

CIO article.


UK GovIT often a barrier not enabler says Cabinet Office official

By Tony Collins

In an interview for Chris Chant, Executive Director at the Cabinet Office and head of the G-Cloud programme,  debunks the claims of some that GovIT doing a great job and should remain largely untouched.

Chant says: “IT is supposed to be an enabler. Quite often in my experience in government IT it is actually a barrier to getting things done. That’s no way to use IT. It is supposed to support what we do.”

His criticism puts into context claims by some in the civil service that GovIT is an unpublicised success because of the ease and success of online re-taxing of vehicles, the payment of benefits to millions of people and the collection of taxes.

Chant has made clear his concern that some departments are locked into major IT suppliers through costly, inflexible long-term contracts that, in some cases, are being signed anew.

“In the main we are not delivering good quality IT to government and public sector workers. We are not delivering good IT solutions to the citizen …”

He calls for internal change and describes SMEs as “front and centre to what we need”.

“It is with SMEs that agility and innovation lie, and it is that market we are really encouraging… Good IT is not developed by spending a long time trying to work out a definitive answer, and then taking ages over delivering it only to discover it is not what we needed in the first place. It is about iteration. I have said all along that we do not have all the answers. We will develop as we go and take SMEs with us.”

Asked whether the public sector is ready for the cloud Chant replies: “No we are not. We are quite a way from that… We are very well positioned to operate in a world where our IT is delivered by multinationals but now it is a different world.”

He says that the cloud has security limitations. “It is difficult to see the cloud in the short term handling some of the higher security aspects of what we do but for a lot of what government does it’s about commodity products and we need to get people in who know how to handle that.”

The focus he says must always be on the citizen – assumptions should not start from a departmental or systems standpoint. “We will need to change the way we do things; we will need some new people and I suspect a lot of retraining. I think we will need a lot fewer people working on the client side of government IT…

“We are in really tough times and the idea that we can operate with [current] cost levels is wrong…”

Government clouds take shape –

The unavoidable truths about GovIT – Chris Chant.

Vested interests will try to stop GovIT changing.

What exactly is HM Revenue and Customs paying Capgemini billions for?

DWP signs new large contracts with HP, Accenture, IBM and Capgemini.

Will the government’s ICT implementation plan finally lock on to the SME solutions it misses?

By David Bicknell

The  government has the potential to leverage its huge buying power in the ICT marketplace. However, the government’s procurement of ICT has in many cases failed to deliver economies of scale and failed to deliver value for money to the taxpayer.

So that is why the latest ICT implementation plan has an objective for the reform of government procurement by centralising common goods and services spend by funding improvements in technology, processes and government wide procurement resources to better manage total procurement spend and government wide standards. 

The government insists it is therefore committed to become a single and effective ICT customer, leveraging buying power whilst remaining flexible on how it procures.

As part of that process the  government says it will create a more open, transparent and competitive ICT marketplace embracing open standards and open source that will remove barriers to SME participation in public sector procurement to create a fairer and more competitive marketplace.

It is important that these barriers to SME participation are removed, because these smaller innovative companies have solutions that the private sector recognises and which will pay to acquire, but which the government seems to miss.

One, ChangeBASE, which specialises in automated application analysis, remediation and conversion for platforms including Windows 7 and 8, Internet Explorer 8 and 9, Terminal Server/Remote Desktop Session Host, VDI, and Application Virtualisation, has just been snapped up by Quest Software  to help Quest become a single source to help organisations take advantage of technology changes to benefit both IT and users alike.

Another UK SME, Procession, continues to try and make the government aware of its technology for the creation of business application software that is both rapidf and agile. Procession’s CEO David Chassels recently wrote to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to try and engage with the government in its goal of becoming a better and more intelligent buyer of ICT. It also plans to speak at a forthcoming “teacamp”, the latest of a series of informal meeting places to stimulate ideas and discussion about government work in ICT.

A third, BCS, provides a global universal library subscription service that provides monthly audit data analysis and optimisation for devices, making audit data much easier to manage and understand. It has also created a carbon footprint library that enables organisations to establish a desktop estate baseline for CO2 information so that they can establish and manage software influence on CO2 output and reduce their carbon offset purchase requirements.

There are countless other SMEs offering innovative solutions to help deliver value for money for the taxpayer that the government still probably has no knowledge about, and which have long since given government procurement up as a lost cause.  The  government says it will create a more open, transparent and competitive ICT marketplace that embraces open standards and open source and that removes barriers to SME participation in public sector procurement.

As they say, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

MPs criticise PFI value for money and the MoD’s failure to invest in effective logistics systems

By David Bicknell

Two parliamentary committees, the Treasury Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee, have today made strong criticisms about the use of private finance initiatives (PFI) and of IT systems for defence logisitics.

In its report, the Treasury Select Committee suggested that PFI funding for new infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, does not provide taxpayers with good value for money and stricter criteria should be introduced to govern its use.

The Committee’s chairman, Andrew Tyrie MP, said:

“PFI means getting something now and paying later. Any Whitehall department could be excused for becoming addicted to that. We can’t carry on as we are, expecting the next generation of taxpayers to pick up the tab. PFI should only be used where we can show clear benefits for the taxpayer. We must first acknowledge we’ve got a problem. This will be tough in the short term but it should benefit the economy and public finances in the longer term.

“PFI should be brought on balance sheet. The Treasury should remove any perverse incentives unrelated to value for money by ensuring that PFI is not used to circumvent departmental budget limits. It should also ask the OBR to include PFI liabilities in future assessments of the fiscal rules. 

We must also impose much more robust criteria on projects that can be eligible for PFI by ensuring that as much as possible of the risk associated with PFI projects is transferred to the private sector and is seen to have been transferred.”

In its report on the defence logistics supply chain, the Public Accounts Committee was critical that the MoD had made little progress in resolving long-standing problems with its supply chain information, despite giving previous assurances to the Committee.

Its recommendations for improving future performance include the following comments:

The Department accepts that historic underinvestment has meant its management information systems and the underlying IT systems are not up to the task. In particular, its spending on IT systems has not kept pace with the need to upgrade those systems.

 “The Department has made investments in new data systems – for example £66 million has been spent on the Management of the Joint Deployed Inventory system which tracks equipment in theatre – and more is planned.

“In 2010, the Department signed an £803 million, 11-year contract with Boeing for the provision of the Future Logistics Information Services project. Under this contract, Boeing is required to bring together 270 different data systems operated by 50 different contractors, which should provide a complete and coherent set of data for managers to use.

“Separately, the Department has now approved an additional £75 million to upgrade some of the defence base inventory management systems that are now at critical risk of failure.

“The implementation of the Future Logistics Information Services project, including the additional upgrade to the warehouse inventory management IT system, will not be complete until 2014. The Department told us it would take a long time to upgrade systems and data, in part because of the need to ‘cleanse’ the data – otherwise the poor quality information the Department currently holds would simply be transferred onto a better IT system.

“We are very concerned that, until the systems are fully rolled out in 2014, the high risk of system failure will remain in systems that are critical to supporting front line troops. To ensure that there is no further slippage in this critical area, the Department has provided us with a plan of the scheduled projects for improving data systems and has promised to report back in six and twelve months on how it is performing against its milestones.”

(Tony Collins is away this week.  But he’ll be back shortly to offer his unique insight on Government and public sector IT projects)