A group of 15 service providers has launched the UK Cloud Alliance, which promises businesses the chance of buying cloud computing services delivered by local partners on local infrastructure.

The initiative, led by communications reseller Star, promises to deliver “clarity and confidence” to end users in a confusing market place.

“The objective is to provide medium sized UK businesses with a collection of technology choices that can be delivered via Star’s private cloud platform and serviced by local specialists,” said Star.

Analyst TechMarketView said the initiative “may well be the right answer for those companies looking for an end-to-end cloud solution from a range of local ‘pre-vetted’ specialist partners”.

The 15 founding members offer a range of services from telephony, security hardware migration and virtualisation. Alliance members have signed up to a code of conduct that promises “transparency and guiding principles to guarantee the customer’s best interests, in addition to Service Level Agreements and any contractual terms.

The move has provoked a cynical response from Andy Burton, Chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum. “In dressing this clearly non-independent commercial offering up as the Cloud Alliance, Star is trying to find a place for itself in the growing cloud computing market,” said Burton.

“Whilst we welcome any advances that assist end users, we do not recognise or support any organisation that risks misleading the market.  

“I am sure that it is not Star’s intent to mislead, and therefore we look forward to seeing their claimed Code of Practice and Service Level Agreements, that they talk about, so that we can all understand these claims about how this benefits end users and fulfils their claims of transparency.”

Members of the Alliance include Plan B, Pythagoras, Concentra, Digirati, GlassHouse Technologies, Itica, Modern Networks, NewVoiceMedia, Nexus, Maindec, redstor, Total, Ubertas, LinuxIT and Star.

Ricky Hudson, CEO of Star said, “Beneath all the hype, cloud computing is very much in demand by a significant and growing proportion of medium sized UK businesses.  This is about serving up UK technology to UK businesses because they like being served by local organisations that they can get to know, grow with and trust.

We are not looking to take on the world or deliver mass transactional sales because what we do is develop close working and dependable relationships that add huge value to a small number of medium sized businesses.

Mark Kirkland, strategic alliance partner manager at Glasshouse Technologies UK and UK Cloud Alliance member, added, “What we do together is combine our skills in order to serve UK businesses better than the technology that serves them today, so they are less restricted by their past technology choices and investment decisions.”