The first in a monthly blog series from Chris Chant, who was responsible for setting the strategy for the use of cloud computing across the public sector, here he explores how G-Cloud continues to create time and cost savings.

Government’s digital marketplace, G-Cloud, began life quite simply. Designed according to the principle that the user must be at the centre of all we do, it started by GDS ‘working out loud’, and ‘telling it how it is’. We started by talking about how we felt about Government IT.

G-Cloud was built upon these foundations of openness. And that openness means nothing can be the same again.

Today, real costs, real performance and real service are laid bare for everyone to see. Costs are transparent. We buy services not systems. We apply security appropriately, rather than applying a blanket level of security and we are now able to understand real total cost of ownership and real exit costs.

In Government, this has been unprecedented.

Another major change that G-Cloud has brought about is the opening up of Government business to SMEs. We have made it easy for SMEs to do business with Government by reducing pointless bureaucracy and not continually repeating the same checks in each department.

We are no longer locked in to contracts — we can, and should be able to easily change suppliers. The extensive variety of G-Cloud’s service contracts under two years demonstrates the supplier cost model and reduces lock-in. Previously, 10–20 year contracts only served to reduce competition, innovation and value for money.

And for those daunted by taking the first step to move from legacy systems and legacy ways of working, we can even ‘try before we buy’ and be up and running in minutes thanks to an ever-improving CloudStore. Hosting of non-sensitive data, web services and collaboration tools are obvious first steps. Commodity services are often all we need and we can now actually use them.

CloudStore makes it really easy for public sector organisations to find what they need.

Lot 4 makes available many experienced companies who can test an organisation’s readiness and viability to use cloud services, while getting on quickly and cheaply with low-hanging fruit. This frees up government organisations to work up plans for more extensive transformation.

The G-Cloud framework has dramatically reduced effort for SMEs and the upcoming move to dynamic frameworks will help that further. The constant easy addition of new innovative suppliers means government organisations can avoid being tied in to lengthy contracts while finding great new services that meet user need.

Chris Chant works with niche consultancy Rainmaker. Previously he served in a number of roles in central government including Ex-Executive Director of the G-Cloud Programme; Interim Executive Director of Government Digital Service (GDS); and Executive Director of Direct Gov and Digital Engagement in the Cabinet Office. He was responsible for the implementation of the Martha Lane-Fox report ‘Revolution not Evolution’ and also launched the Alpha version of the new Gov.UK website.

This is a reproduction of an article Chris Chant contributed to the Local Digital Campaign.