FOR some, the emergence of cloud computing has been a big deal. Others have been curious by-standers, watching from the sidelines and debating whether to enter the field of play.
But it’s fair to say that government initiative G-Cloud has been pinpointed as an absolute game-changer for small and medium-sized businesses.
It has paved the way for smaller firms to win public sector tenders which would have previously been out of reach.
Designed to offer a more cost-effective and innovative model for purchasing IT, G-Cloud celebrated its one-year anniversary earlier this year.
The programme focuses on cloud computing’s capability for economic growth, capitalising on cloud’s cost savings and flexibility to create a more accessible means of delivering public services.
The driving force behind its introduction was the desire to make it cheaper for the government to buy and operate IT, making it simpler for firms of all sizes to compete for public sector business.
Since February 2012, public sector organisations have had the ability to buy IT commodity services from the online catalogue in the government’s CloudStore on a pay-as-you-go understanding, instead of developing and running their own system and infrastructure.
The idea was to offer more choice and flexibility, and drive delivery of public services, which is better value.
The CloudStore is a way for the government to purchase IT services and products. It is an online catalogue of information and communications services available to the public sector, comprising information about suppliers and their services.
The experts believe that now is the time for SMEs to make their mark in the public sector.
Chris Hugo, a director at Govdata, a leading government relationship management consultancy, said: “The major thing that is really impacting on the public sector is not necessarily that outsourcing is changing, it’s just the supply chain that is changing – so we have traditionally seen the large SIs be the deliverers of service.
“Whereas G-Cloud, designed for SMEs, is specifically there so that all of these contracts are much smaller, and that the SMEs are actually able to engage and win them.”
Lawrence Jones, CEO of cloud and colocation specialist UKFast, said: “The public sector market has always had such high barriers to entry for SMEs, often the cost of the tender process was too high to even pitch for contracts.
“Now is the time for SMEs to challenge the huge firms that have dominated the market and bring their innovation and cost savings to the sector.”
Nick Rhind is the CEO of CTI Digital, a Manchester Drupal and Magento web development agency.
He believes there is an obvious difference in what SMEs can bring to the table as opposed to the so-called big boys.
Rhind said: “You can put pressure on SMEs because if a job doesn’t go well you can ruin that business, so SMEs will put every bit of effort into making sure a project works.
“They will put more time in and use the latest technologies, whereas the major companies have big solicitors, corporate lawyers – they will fight over terms, put projects on hold and eventually there is a pay-out, about which you are horrified to hear when they haven’t delivered.
“An SME would never be in that scenario.”