Monday, 17 February 2014

Skyscape – the Surprise as a Service company

It was such a surprise that everyone can remember where they were the day that Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd won the contract to host GOV.UK.

Skyscape was so young then that the company hadn't even submitted its first set of accounts to Companies House. One man alone owned all the shares in the company. There was plenty of competition from long-established cloud services companies with measurable track records. How did Skyscape beat them?

How did Skyscape go on to win contracts with the MOD? And HMRC? And the Home Office?

How did they qualify for pan-government accreditation?

Last month Skyscape surprised the world again with its open letter to the Government Digital Service and the Government Procurement Service. G-Cloud sales are rising "exponentially", they said, but that's not fast enough for Skyscape. G-Cloud is transforming government IT, they said, but again, not enough. Were they really saying that G-Cloud isn't working? And won't work, as currently designed?

There is a mystery exercising some of us about that open letter of Skyscape's. How did they get Bird & Bird to sign it?

Bird and Bird are solicitors. Red hot, no doubt, at drafting agreements, what are they doing signing a public complaint about operational matters drafted by a little splinter group of malcontents and addressed to what must be Bird and Bird's (prospective) clients?

While we were all pondering that, Skyscape slipped in yet another surprise. They submitted their 2013 statutory accounts to Companies House. 19 pages of surprises. They need to be rationed. You can have one now, just to be going on with.

Skyscape have used the Business review and future developments section of the Directors' report to do a hard sell. Among other things, the directors say:
With a current G-Cloud market share of circa 50%, Skyscape is the leading supplier of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) on the UK government's G-Cloud framework and delivers services directly to an increasing range of government departments including ...
50%?

A company that barely existed a year ago has been given 50% of G-Cloud business?

Is that the sign of a market operating efficiently?

What's the point of any other suppliers trying to sell through G-Cloud?

Those and many other questions would need to be answered if the 50% claim was accurate but, as it happens, it isn't.

Let's assume that a "current G-Cloud market share" is a share as at 23 December 2013 when Skyscape's accounts were signed. G-Cloud have published their sales figures to the end of November 2013 and Skyscape account for £1.3 million out of a total of £77.8 million. 1.7% of the G-Cloud market. Not 50%.

As for being the "leading supplier" of IaaS, according to the G-Cloud sales figures again, Skyscape do precisely no IaaS business, they make their money out of hosting, compute and storage. G-Cloud's IaaS business, such as it is, goes mainly to Intechnology plc. N Please see update below, 23 February 2014.

What will Skyscape come up with to entertain us next?

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Updated 23 February 2014

N Alan Mather has kindly corrected a DMossEsq mistake here.

Search through the November 2013 sales figures for G-Cloud, looking for occurrences of "IaaS", and you find 15 of them as follows:
Lot
Supplier
Product / Service Description
Total Charge
£(Ex VAT)
4
Actica Consulting Ltd
IaaS procurement
11,900.00
4
Actica Consulting Ltd
IaaS procurement
12,275.00
4
Actica Consulting Ltd
IaaS contract set-up support
11,175.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,500.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,300.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,300.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,500.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
52,618.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
49,560.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,500.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,500.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,500.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,500.00
1
INTECHNOLOGY PLC
IaaS
9,500.00
1
SPECIALIST COMPUTER
CENTRE
GCLOUD IAAS VPN
TERMINATION
4,120.00







226,748.00

No sign of Skyscape in the list, and thus the "Skyscape do precisely no IaaS business" comment above.

But that's not how you do it. The G-Cloud framework is divided into four Lots – 1, 2, 3 and 4 – and the whole of Lot 1 is classed as IaaS, see G-Cloud ‘Simple’ Procurement Instructions:
  • Lot 1 - Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Lot 2 - Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Lot 3 - Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Lot 4 - Specialist Cloud Services
On that basis, Skyscape had 38.86% (£1,299,765.53) of G-Cloud's IaaS business (£3,344,877.25) which, in some circles, could be described as "circa 50%", as long as you don't accidentally give the impression that you have 50% of the total market (£77.8 million) when, in fact, you only have 1.7%:
With a current G-Cloud market share of circa 50%, Skyscape is the leading supplier of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) on the UK government's G-Cloud framework and delivers services directly to an increasing range of government departments including ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Skyscape were certainly not chosen on technical merit. The DVLA is now saddled with the same crappy service too.

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