Thursday 27 September 2012

Government Digital Service, G-Cloud, log-rolling, size matters

... do you think that Whitehall's gone mad?

[Skyscape has subsequently changed its name to UKCloud: "London – August 1, 2016 – Skyscape Cloud Services Limited, the easy to adopt, easy to use and easy to leave assured cloud services company, has today renamed and relaunched as UKCloud Ltd (, to reinforce the company’s exclusive focus on supporting the UK public sector in the digital transformation of services".]
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One of the ways Whitehall plans to transform itself is to retain more SMEs – small and medium-sized enterprises. The big brutes like IBM are lumbering behemoths, so it is said, they're slow and they cost a fortune. SMEs would put a spring in Whitehall's step.

This is all tied up with G-Cloud, the plan to stick government data in the cloud, thereby making government services efficient, trusted and green. Or so it is said.

And so it was that the G-Cloud blog was really pleased to be able to announce on 18 September 2012 that:
We’re really pleased to be able to announce the first major sale of Infrastructure As A Service. Government Digital Service have signed a contract with Skyscape for:

1) Compute as a service

2) Compute as a service (test & development)

3) Storage as a service

This is all intended to support  the exciting work they’re doing on to revolutionise the way citizens access information and services online ... The purchase also shows that government is ready to embrace low cost utility cloud services and is  buying from SME’s ...
The G-Cloud team made the public statement above about how marvellous GDS are and quite independently GDS made a public statement about how marvellous G-Cloud is, coincidentally on the very same day:
In the past, we might have looked at dedicated servers or possibly even our own rack in a datacentre somewhere ...

The cloud has transformed all of this. Through the G-Cloud framework we are able to simply and rapidly buy highly reliable, highly cost-effective hosting services ...

To meet the needs of GOV.UK, we are planning to work with a number of different Infrastructure as a Service providers. We are happy to announce that the first cloud hosting provider we are working with is Skyscape ...
GOV.UK is the replacement for every single central government website + Directgov + Businesslink, please see "Single government domain" on GDS's list of projects. They'll all go. They'll all be replaced with one single domain, GOV.UK.

It's not as though there's any sign of GDS working on identity assurance or assisted digital. DWP are left waiting for identity assurance, Universal Credit is in limbo and millions of claimants are stuck in the poverty trap. All GDS are doing is re-writing a lot of websites that already exist.

They haven't finished yet and it's still in testing but GOV.UK is the only output from GDS so far, it's their only visible raison d'être. And they've decided to host their baby not on servers at a government data centre or at a big brute of a lumbering behemoth, but on Skyscape's servers.

And who, you ask, are Skyscape?

Take a look at the "Company information" bit of the Companies House website, enter "Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd" and you, too, will discover that the company's registered office is in Corsham, that it was incorporated on 3 May 2011 as company no.07619797 and that it has yet to file any accounts. Click on "Order information on this company" and you'll find that it's a £100 £1,000 company with 10,000 100,000 1p-nominal shares to its name.

Smaller than IBM, yes – but perhaps a little too small? GOV.UK depends on a £100 £1,000 company?

The G-Cloud team find this exciting and revolutionary. GDS find it simple, rapid, highly reliable and cost-effective. And they're happy.

But are you? Are you happy? Or do you think that Whitehall's gone mad?

1 comment:

Laid-Back Public Sector New Media Guy said...

Picky picky picky!

Chill, dude - what could possibly go wrong?

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