Will government departments go large in the future?

The new CloudStore is set to change the way public services operate - but will it?

How will large system integrators thrive in the brave new world of CloudStore?

A press release from Memset seems to capture the mood of many of the cloud companies who have been involved in the push for government services. Headlined “Large system integrators losing their hold on government contracts as G-Cloud partners are announced", the release details the feeling that the large companies who have previously dominated governement contracts are going to find life more difficult in future.

This may be premature. Companies like CapGemini, Capita and Fujitsu are still on the list of suppliers on CloudStore and are there will be plenty of options to use them.

Kate Craig-Wood, managing director of Memset, has answer to this. "Some of the incumbents are charging a couple of hundred quid where we're charging £30. We and some of our small comrades are frankly rubbing our hands," she says. "Public sector organisations will be able to get the same services for about a tenth of the money." And, she says, that's not by loss leading, we've been making a good living out of the virtual machine market at the prices we charge."

However, the incumbent large suppliers have a lot of cards in their hands. They have long track records, know the systems inside out, have built up relationships with their customers and can provide extensive consultancy. But the consultants are sure to be confident of retaining business. In a statement, CapGemini's director of local public services, Jonathan Mills  says that its appearance on CloudStore was "an important endorsement of our strategy to be an end-to-end provider, reducing the risk and accelerating the successful deployment of cloud for our customers....We were able to demonstrate a track record of success in cloud computing projects for specific UK public and private sector organisations, supported by the international experience and resources we can offer as a global company."

Craig-Wood has an answer to this. "It's envisaged that there will be some sort of feedback system on CloudStore and customers will be able to make their feelings known."  She says that she hopes that non-techies (the chief executives, the accountants, the politicians) will be able to see the technical decisions being made and hold their CIOs to account. "They might not be able to ask the technical questions but will be able to ask why couldn't they buy a service cheaper - they may be a good reason for it, but there may not be."

This is going to be key to the process. Will it be left to the CIOs and the technical team? If so, the large incumbents could still have a role to play. Or will it be like an Amazon for cloud services where non-techies peruse a range of cloud services looking to find one that's the right fit at the right price. 

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