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SME voices concerns about G-Cloud

UK SME Star is not sure if government's goal to level the playing field will be realised

Many SME suppliers who have made it onto the government's G-Cloud programme have welcomed the initiative, but some have expressed concern about whether or not it will actually open doors for smaller suppliers.

It comes as G-Cloud programme director Chris Chant confirmed that after a week of being open to the public sector, no services have yet been bought via the CloudStore.

Medium-sized UK supplier Star has had its cloud offerings for Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) accredited for the G-Cloud programme. Its services - alongside those of 256 other suppliers - are now available on the government's one-stop shop for commodity cloud services, CloudStore.

The firm said that the CloudStore will need to be in operation for at least six months before it can confirm if the initiative has changed the way that central government procures cloud services, by switching from larger to smaller suppliers.

"We are really positive about the opportunity and pleased to be involved. But we just don't really know what it means to us or to the government because it's new. We haven't seen any activity so far," said Martino Corbelli, chief customer officer at Star.

"We welcomed the initiative initially because it felt to us that central government was a closed shop and we weren't invited to come and play. [But] we are not taking anything for granted because we are on a website."

Corbelli's comments were even more pertinent as a power outage on the Microsoft Azure platform yesterday caused the CloudStore to go down for more than 12 hours. CloudStore was built on the Azure platform by UK SME SolidSoft.

Star was also concerned that public sector procurers, even when presented with an extensive list of SME suppliers, will just choose the well-known, larger suppliers that they recognise.

However, another UK SME, Insight, which has also been included on CloudStore, believes that smaller suppliers still have a good chance of competing with large suppliers.

"CloudStore is very much an open catalogue listing where the buyer will need to know what they want before beginning the browsing process because not all catalogue entries are defined in the same way. In fact, many of the descriptive entries are missing.

"This is where the SME organisations are coming to the fore. It appears that they have taken great care to ensure that their entries are real, valid and understandable - and this is where they will prosper."


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