Tag Archives: Cloud

Government Digital Service sets an example on cloud

By Tony Collins

The Government Digital Service is putting its money where its mouth is. A leading public sector advocate of the cloud, GDS says that the first cloud hosting provider it is working with is Skyscape.

Mark O’Neill, Head of Service Delivery and Innovation at GDS, which is a team of innovators based at the Cabinet Office, writes that GDS is building GOV.UK, currently in beta at http://www.gov.uk.

“In the past, we might have looked at dedicated servers or possibly even our own rack in a datacentre somewhere. We would then have had to decide if we wanted to own the servers or if we should rent them some time to break out amortisation tables and spreadsheets.

“We would have to make sure that we were not locked in if we needed to move servers, so it would be necessary to negotiate break clauses in contracts; we would need to arrange access to server rooms for security accreditation; we would need to… well, the list goes on and on.

“The cloud has transformed all of this. Through the G-Cloud framework we are able to simply and rapidly buy highly reliable, highly cost-effective hosting services.

“Colleagues in GDS put together a statement of our requirements based on the experience we had gained during the alpha and the ongoing beta releases of GOV.UK and experience from the delivery of other major online services, both public and private sector.

“We then tested that statement of requirements against the list of suppliers on the G-Cloud framework. This allowed us to sift the number of potential providers down to four who met the statement of requirements.

“We then invited each of the suppliers in and used a consistent set of questions to explore their ability to meet our needs, their approach to operational service delivery and how they could provide flexible, scalable services through the cloud.

“To meet the needs of GOV.UK, we are planning to work with a number of different Infrastructure as a Service providers. We are happy to announce that the first cloud hosting provider we are working with is Skyscape.

“We have used G-Cloud previously for a number of small projects covering services like hosting and operations. We were very happy to discover that letting a major service contract for our flagship platform, GOV.UK, was equally straightforward and quick.

“Whilst the GOV.UK contract is the largest we have let so far, it is one of an increasing number we are letting through G-Cloud, which is now our standard way of procuring infrastructure services… If you have not used G-Cloud before then take a look, you will be pleasantly surprised. In the words of a song of my youth, ‘It was easy. It was cheap. Go and do it!'”

Introducing a new supplier – Skyscape

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CIOs must lead business change with consumerisation, Cloud focus

By David Bicknell

Some work published by PwC in the US has argued that top-performing U.S. organisations show greater mastery in how they leverage digital technologies by the way they embrace consumerisation, the Cloud and social media.

The management company’s Digital IQ survey says these companies are offering mobile tools for customers, measuring data through social media, mobilising applications to the public cloud and are applying innovative use of business intelligence. It also finds that most enterprises are still playing catch-up on the consumerisation of IT.

PwC believes the CIO plays a critical role in the planning process for increasing a company’s Digital IQ. It argues that CIOs must be excellent at managing the internal factory, but also excel at mobilising new plans into action.  

The Digital IQ findings call for business leaders — and, in particular, today’s CIOs — to lead their organisations to change and innovate from the inside out. The report findings suggest that excellence in IT has not been commoditised and is still differentiating as a competitive advantage. Indeed, IT-enabled, multi-channel connections with customers can make a marked difference to business results. But to succeed, today’s CIOs — and the C-suite more broadly — must excel at not just managing internally, but also mobilising new plans into action.

PwC argues that a high Digital IQ requires the CIO to find better ways to sift through and drive insight from the increasing torrent of data streaming from every manner of device and interaction, and to create a platform that can deliver these capabilities across a varied set of changing mobile devices.

PwC’s survey showed that 63 percent of respondents revealed their greatest challenge is the inability to gather, understand and act on customer data. Fifty-eight percent cite an inability to quickly understand and adopt the new information technologies needed to be competitive.

“Consumerisation of IT is on the rise, and in the Survey we continue to see a need to serve the mobile customer, move to cloud services, and use data more effectively,” said Chris Curran, principal at PwC. “Organisations that have an integrated strategy—which includes technology—seem to perform better.”

For those interested in the consumerisation of IT, the Corporate IT Forum is holding a summit on the subject in London on 22nd February.  You can find out more details here

Bookmarked – a selection of recent articles that caught the eye

China Daily – SMEs given preferential policies in govt procurement

New York Times – The Ying and the Yang of Corporate Information

Stuff.co.nz – Gremlins’ delays add up to headaches

The Daily Telegraph – Apple iCloud: will the Cloud finally go mainstream?

Harvard Business Review – An Introvert’s Guide to Networking

ICMIF Blog –  Can Popular Capitalism go global?

The Lawyer – Never Knowingly Undersold: Employee Share Ownership

Ethos Journal – Common Purpose

The challenges of shifting US Government IT into the Cloud

By David Bicknell

Good piece from Federal Computer Week (FCW) in the US about the challenges of shifting Government IT systems towards Cloud delivery.

Alan Joch’s piece, ‘Is government procurement ready for the Cloud?‘ points out that although cloud computing will offer speed and agility with agencies anble to take IT services up or down as necessary to quickly support new mission plans or workload changes, the reality – for now –  has yet to hit procurement practices.

As Joch says, “Many IT procurement practices and contracting vehicles were designed to help managers provision hardware and software, not on-demand services. Can the current acquisition practices translate easily to the dynamic world of cloud computing?”

Not really, says Barry Brown, executive director of the Enterprise Data Management and Engineering Division at Customs and Border Protection. He echoed a view shared by others in the federal government, and told FCW that for cloud computing, “The technology delivery model has changed. What has not changed is the procurement model.”

The US government has a Cloud-first policy which seeks to reduce costs and increase IT acquisition flexibility by pushing federal IT systems towards cloud environments. Each agency has until May to identify three IT resources that it will move to the Cloud.

But, reports FCW,  the move is straining traditional procurement departments. Rather than promoting speed and agility, in some cases Cloud initiatives are spawning extended contract negotiations and legal challenges that are making it take even longer for agencies to get the resources they need.

US Government Cloud First Policy

DWP defends £316m HP contract

By Tony Collins

The Department for Work and Pensions could lead the public sector in technical innovations. It has had some success in cutting its IT-related costs. It has also had some success so far with Universal Credit, which is based on agile principles.

It has further launched an imaginative welfare-to-work scheme , the so-called Work Programme, which seeks to get benefit claimants into jobs they keep.

Despite media criticism of the way the scheme has been set up – especially in the FT – a report by the NAO this week made it clear that the DWP has, for the most part, taken on risks that officials understand.

Some central government departments have updated business cases as they went through a major business-change programme and not submitted the final case until years into the scheme, as in parts of the NPfIT.

But the DWP has implemented the Work Programme unusually quickly, in a little more than a year, by taking sensible risks.  The NAO report on the scheme said the business case and essential justification for the Work Programme were drawn up after key decisions had already been made. But the NAO also picked out some innovations:

– some of the Work Programme is being done manually rather than rush the IT

– suppliers get paid by results, when they secure jobs that would not have occurred without their intervention. And suppliers get more money if the former claimant stays in the job.

– the scheme is cost-justified in part on the wider non-DWP societal benefits of getting the long-term unemployed into jobs such as reduced crime and improved health.

So the DWP is not frightened of innovation. But while Universal Credit and welfare-to-work scheme are centre stage, the DWP is, behind the safety curtain, awarding big old-style contracts to the same suppliers that have monopolised government IT for decades.

Rather than lead by example and change internal ways of working – and thus take Bunyan’s steep and cragged paths – the DWP is taking the easy road.

It is making sure that HP, AccentureIBM and CapGemini are safe in its hands. Indeed the DWP this week announced a £316m desktop deal with HP.  EDS, which HP acquired in 2008, has been a main DWP supplier for decades.

DWP responds to questions on £316m HP deal 

I put it to the DWP that the £316m HP deal was olde worlde, a big contract from a former era. These were its responses. Thank you to DWP press officer Sandra Roach who obtained the following responses from officials. A DWP spokesperson said:

“This new contract will deliver considerable financial savings and a range of modern technologies to support DWP’s strategic objectives and major initiatives such as Universal Credit.

“The DWP has nearly 100,000 staff, processing benefits and pensions, delivering services to 22 million people.

“DWP is on schedule to make savings of over £100m in this financial year for it’s Baseline IT operational costs, including the main IT contracts with BT and HPES [Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services].

“All contracts have benchmarking clauses to ensure best value for money in the marketplace.

“The five year contract was awarded through the Government Procurement framework and has been scrutinised to ensure value for money.”

My questions and the DWP’s answers:

Why has the DWP awarded HP a £316m contract when the coalition has a presumption against awarding contracts larger than £100m?

DWP spokesperson: “The Government IT Strategy says (page 10) ‘Where possible the Government will move away from large and expensive ICT projects, with a presumption that no project will be greater than £100m. Moving to smaller and more manageable projects will improve project delivery timelines and reduce the risk of project failure’.

“HM Treasury, Cabinet Office and DWP’s commercial and finance teams have scrutinised the DWP Desktop Service contract to ensure that it represents the most economically advantageous proposition.”

What is the role, if any for SMEs ?

DWP: “There are a number of SMEs whose products or services will form part of or contribute to the DWP Desktop Service being delivered by HP, for example ActivIdentity, Anixter, AppSense, Azlan, Click Stream, Cortado, Juniper Networks, Quest Software, Repliweb Inc, Scientific Computers Limited (SCL), Westcon etc.”

Why is there no mention of G-Cloud?

DWP: “Both the new contract and the new technical solution are constructed in such a way as to support full or partial moves to cloud services at DWP’s discretion.”

Comment:

For the bulk of its IT the DWP is trapped by a legacy of complexity. It is arguably too welcoming of the safety and emollients offered by its big suppliers.

The department is not frightened by risk – hence the innovative Work Programme which the NAO is to be commended on for monitoring at an early stage of the scheme. So if the DWP is willing to take on sensible risks, why does it continue to bathe its major IT suppliers in soothingly-large payments, a tradition that dates back decades? What about G-Cloud?

DWP reappoints HP on £316m desktop deal

DWP signs fifth large deal with HP

“DWP awards Accenture seven year application services deal”

“DWP awards IT deals to IBM and Capgemini”

Cloud specialist claims China public sector IT success

By David Bicknell

It’s not too often you see a press release announcing the successful conclusion of a public sector IT project.

But it’s perhaps a sign of the times that there is such an announcement, and that it comes not from the West, but from the East. It’s in China.

China Intelligence which provides virtualisation technology application and cloud computing related consulting services, products, solutions and implementation service in China says it  has completed the third phase of a datacentre virtualisation project for the Hebei Maritime Safety Administration of China.

‘Hebei MSA’ is a governmental agency which oversees all matters related to the safety of the sea, including shipping, of  Hebei Province in the north of China. The project which began in October 2010 was completed in November 2011.

I have to admit I didn’t know too much about China Intelligence, but apparently, it’s a virtualisation and cloud computing specialist and a VMware partner  with a string of Chinese clients, including  the State Grid Corporation of China, China Unicome, China Southern Power Grid, China Life Insurance Group, China Huaneng Group and China Power Investment Corporation.

I have at this stage no way of verifying whether the virtualisation project was as successful as has been claimed, but it’s rather interesting that a Chinese IT services company announces a successful project on PR Newswire.

Perhaps it’s looking for overseas business.

G-Cloud and agile briefings

By Tony Collins

On 22 November the Government Digital Service is giving a briefing for potential G-Cloud suppliers. It’ll be streamed live.

Officials say the briefing will be particularly useful to suppliers whose employees have never participated in a government tender.

At the ApplyCamp, officials will explain G-Cloud, steps in the OJEU procurement process, what information potential G-Cloud suppliers need to give, and what happens next.

The event is particularly aimed at Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Software as a Service and other specialist cloud service suppliers. It will be held at Google, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9TQ – 3pm – 5pm.

Agile TeaCamp – 24 November

Between 4pm and 6pm at the Cafe Zest, House of Fraser, Victoria St, London, there will be talks on agile. Derrick Cameron, MD of software consultancy Eximium and COO of agile software house Procession will speak on “Becoming the Intelligent Buyer”.  Chris Parsons, a “freelance thinker, coder and trainer” will talk about the e-petitions project and the aims of the Agile Delivery Network.

Teacamps in November and December – Government Digital Service

CSC ambivalent on prospects of new NHS IT deal

By Tony Collins

CSC is not quite as confident as it was on new NPfIT contracts

CSC is meeting UK Government officials next month to discuss the company’s £3bn worth of NHS IT contracts. It follows a review of the NPfIT contracts by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority.

It’s likely officials will discuss a major revision of CSC’s contracts – and possibly an end to them. The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude is thought to favour termination but the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, on the advice of NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson, wants to keep CSC in a revised NPfIT.

Recommendations from the Cabinet Office have gone to David Cameron for a decision.

In a conference call yesterday on the company’s first quarter results CSC’s executives said the outcome of the NHS contracts represented an “elevated” risk factor.  But they said CSC is still on target for signing a new deal.

Mike Laphen, CSC’s Chief Executive, said his company has included in its forecasts about $250m [£155m] of NHS turnover until the end of its financial year in April 2012. Any delay in reaching a new deal in September could affect the $250m forecast said Laphen.

He said: “Right now we are assuming that we are still on target with the MoU [Memorandum of Understanding between CSC and the Department of Health]. We are absolutely staffed up ready to execute. We’ve got the products in the delivery pipeline and we believe we have the demand…”

On its NHS work CSC continues to “execute and deliver against our current commitments across primary and secondary care”. CSC’s iSoft “Lorenzo” remains in production routinely supporting daily operations at three early adopter sites.

“We are progressing delivery modules… including emergency care and outpatient prescribing which are anticipated to be installed at the University Hospitals Morecambe Bay once an agreement is reached with the authority,” said a CSC spokesman.

The company told analysts that for its 2012 financial year “there are still a number of large balls still in the air” which include the NHS contract, integration of iSoft and US government spending. “Our business is sound and we have one of the strongest balance sheets in our industry,” said the company.

UK IT market analysts Techmarketview said CSC’s management team “isn’t quite as confident of a positive outcome [on talks over NHS contracts] as it was a few months ago – and rightly so.”

CSC also noted there had been a “significant shift in the market”  from outsourcing to cloud, though with cloud many companies are still deciding “what they’re going to do, or not do”.

MP contacts No 10 and Cabinet Office on CSC’s NHS IT contracts.

BT slammed over NPfIT value-for-money claim.

Was NPfIT really a programme?

Trust forced to buy NPfIT software or face fine

NPfIT has proved unworkable – BCS

A standard cloud-based ERP for central govt?

By Tony Collins

 The Cabinet Office has published “Government Shared Services: A Strategic Vision – July 2011″ which suggests a  “cloud- based ERP standard platform which Departments could buy into and from”.

The idea is part of the coalition’s plans to standardise IT systems within government. Standardising could save money – but, as the Public Administration Select Committee warned last week, not if standardising means giving even more control of government IT to a few large, monopolistic suppliers.

The Cabinet Office says that a number of Departments are due to upgrade their supporting IT systems for back office corporate services in the coming years.

 “A co-ordinated management approach by Government will lower the cost of reinvestment whilst enabling a rationalisation of the current landscape,” says the Cabinet Office.

“For example, a number of large Departments who have implemented and operate an Enterprise Resource Platform (ERP) solution need to plan for the expiration of support to the current instance by 2013.

 “This presents an opportunity for UK Government to source a “vertical” solution for a “cloud based” ERP standard platform which Departments could buy into and from.”

On Shared Services, the plan is to 

“reform how Central Government procures and manages consolidated back office corporate services – by establishing an equitable market of a small number of accredited Independent Shared Service Centres and enabling Departments and their ALBs [arm’s-length bodies] to choose between these – in order to drive up quality and reduce costs of these services, in support of Governments cost reduction targets.”

The Cabinet office says that approved shared services centres will “provide outcome based services, using standardised simplified processes, with the expectation to regularly publish performance data against established benchmarks”.

They will be able to make use of different business models – such as mutualisation – to “leverage capability and the financial investment needed to deliver this service and may operate virtually or from a small number of fully integrated delivery centres”.

Government shared services – a strategic vision. July 2011

SME company gains 395 new customers despite a challenging marketplace

Campaign4Change spent some time this week talking with Scott Haddow, chief executive of York-based value added reseller Trustmarque Solutions, which through its Enterprise Solutions Group (TESG) is helping its customers reduce their IT expenditure costs.

Trustmarque’s approach has been so successful, that in the last year it gained 395 new public and private sector clients.

Over the past eighteen months, Trustmarque has successfully transitioned from Large Account Reseller (LAR) to Value Added Reseller (VAR) status, moving away from a high volume, low margin business where there is no direct relationship with the customer.

Its success has had a significant impact on the bottom line.  In the first nine months of its 2010/2011 financial year, Trustmarque increased its Gross Profit by 28 percent, with TESG doubling its associated turnover from consulting, managed services and software solutions.   That continued growth also means Trustmarque currently has 20 open vacancies in Sales, IT, Finance and Operations which it needs to fill by the start of its next financial year in September.

The public sector may be wary of cloud computing, for now, but the private sector happily sees the potential in adopting it, which is perhaps why Trustmarque bought cloud infrastructure and hosted services provider Nimbus Technology Systems  to provide it with more breadth and depth of expertise in cloud services delivery as well as an expanded portfolio of managed cloud services. 

What we also learned from speaking with Haddow is that many of the company’s NHS Trust customers are very forward thinking in their approach to IT. In a sector that may not have been known for competition, it is clear that some want to be at the leading edge and are prepared to use whatever technology solutions they can to gain a competitive advantage. Just like the private sector, there are  trusts that are happier being front-runners and who’ll actively seek to use technology to keep their edge.

We also learned how Trustmarque sits down with new customers for lengthy meetings to thrash out where they can make savings, through consolidation of IT assets, and especially by reducing their software licensing costs. For example, Durham Constabulary is saving £190,000 in licensing costs over three years; Derbyshire Fire and Rescue will save £88,000 in licensing costs over six years; Transport for Greater Manchester will also save £60,000 a year on licensing costs; and Plymouth City Council will see savings of £494,000 over a 3 year period and a 26% reduction in its previous licensing arrangement.

It’s clear that even though the Coalition has aspirations to open up more business for SMEs, success-stories like Trustmarque don’t need to rely on those plans to gain a healthy slice of government business: they’re doing it for themselves.