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G-Cloud director label’s EU cloud plans as ‘old world thinking’

Denise McDonagh said that she is working closely with Brussels to try and influence thinking

The director of the government's G-Cloud, Denise McDonagh, has questioned the European Commission's Cloud Computing Strategy, labelling the approach as 'old world thinking'.

McDonagh was speaking at Salesforce.com's customer tour event in London, where she said that Brussels' idea of cloud delivery has a different emphasis to what is being delivered in the UK public sector. Salesforce was signed as a supplier on the most recent G-Cloud framework.

The UK government is driving the adoption of public cloud via its G-Cloud framework, which is iterated every six to twelve months and is soon to launch a third version. It aims to encourage as many suppliers as possible to sign up, with a heavy SME base to attempt to break down the traditional IT contracts in government which are typically handed to a select few large suppliers.

At present there are 458 suppliers signed up to the framework, many of which are SMEs, and spend on the G-Cloud recently surpassed £18 million.

However, towards the end of last year the European Commission criticised the UK's approach and said that for cloud to be successful in the EU there needs to be an agreed set of standards that suppliers should operate to and that these suppliers should be certified.

The EU Cloud Computing Strategy reads: "The public sector has a strong role to play in shaping the cloud computing market. As the EU's largest buyer of IT services, it can set stringent requirements for features, performance, security, interoperability and data portability and compliance with technical requirements.

"It can also lay down requirements for certification. Several Member States have started national initiatives such as Andromede in France, G-Cloud in the UK and Trusted Cloud in Germany. But with the public sector market fragmented, its requirements have little impact, services integration is low and citizens do not get the best value for money."

Government CTO, Liam Maxwell, has criticised this approach in the past claiming that this will again lead to traditional IT suppliers only being able to pass the certification process, which will once again result in an oligopoly of providers that excludes SMEs.

McDonagh has now said that she is working with peers in Brussels to try and influence their thinking.

"We've had many of our European colleagues come over to see what we are doing in G-Cloud and they are all very excited about the prospects. We have had lots of different officials from lots of different governments," she said.

"But then we have what's happening in Brussels and there is probably a different emphasis on what Brussels is thinking in terms of their delivery in cloud. It's a bit more restrictive and I think it is a bit old world thinking."

She added: "We are working very closely with our Brussels colleagues to help influence and show the experience of government cloud to see how we can come up to some sort of common thinking on that."

In other news, Salesforce has announced that it is finally going to be opening a European data centre, based in the UK in Slough, which has been driven by customer compliance complaints and the desire to win more public sector business.

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