The G-Cloud apps store: the changing face of public sector IT

The provision of 1700 apps in the government G-Cloud apps store is a sign of growing confidence in the power of cloud

I think we can safely say that,  so far, the government G-Cloud initiative is shaping to be a great success.

That may seem like a strange thing to say. The service has yet to be launched and we’ll only be able to measure success when we’re going to see the extent of public sector take-up, but the availability of some 1,700 approved apps in a government-run app store is a sign that this is a move that’s captured the public interest.

The availability of apps is a meaningless measure in itself: the government could make 5,000 apps available but if they’re not used then there’s little point in offering them.

But G-Cloud director, Chris Chant,  is very confident. “"Not everyone is ready to migrate straight away …but I would say 80 per cent are ready to [adopt] something from the Government app store," he says. Even if only half of those 80 adopt in the first six months, that would be an unqualified success. And, of course, success will breed success, Once public sector bodies see their peers using these apps, we can expect to see even more take-up across the board.

The launch of the portal last week showed how far government IT has come in the last few years. Openness and flexibility are the name of the game now and I think that will be reflected in the way that organisations move to adopt these apps. With 1,700 to choose from - all aimed specifically at the public sector - there's going to be plenty of choice. Public bodies will be like kids in the proverbial sweet shop, fingers itching with the variety of goodies on offer.

If the government had gone down this route a year ago, I’m pretty sure that the apps would have languished unwanted and unloved apart from the cloud enthusiasts. It was only about 18 months ago that I spoke to a county council CIO about cloud computing and heard him say that there wasn’t the slightest chance that the council would adopt cloud at any point in the next five years: I wonder whether his mind has changed on that.

When Vivek Kundra attempted his cloud first policy in the US, he fell  down on the resistance to the idea by departmental CIOs. There’s an element of that on this side of the pond too – we’ve already seen that some public sector bodes have resisted moves to the cloud but the signs are that this attitude is changing

The drive towards cloud in the public sector seems to be unstoppable. Virtual Cloudsponents could make the technical arguments but fall down on the politics. That’s changed: the political will now seems to be towards cloud and the apps store will touch on that. These  promise to be exciting times.

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