The G-Cloud’s programme director, Denise McDonagh, has called for the government to introduce a ‘cloud first’ policy, where departments would have to first look to the Cloudstore for services before procuring through traditional methods.

The idea of a cloud first policy has been discussed before in government, but in recent months has been brushed aside. However, speaking at the Business Cloud Summit event in London this week, McDonagh made it clear she would like to see one implemented.

She said that she was aware that not everything can be put into the public cloud, but it should be the first port of call.

The government recently released the second iteration of its G-Cloud framework, which has 458 suppliers offering a variety of services to the public sector, all of which are available through an online portal called ‘CloudStore’.

A cloud first policy has been implemented in the US by Obama’s administration, but is yet to be implemented in the UK.

“How do you unlock the cloud potential? We really do need to make a cloud first policy. We really should be challenging ourselves,” said McDonagh.

“We need to provide a bit more clarity and a bit more leadership. We need to make public cloud a reality. I know that everything can’t be done in the public cloud, but when we do anything, we should be thinking, why can’t I do that in a public cloud?”

She added: “If it can’t be done in a public cloud, it needs to be done in a private cloud. A private cloud has the same sort of characteristics as a public cloud does – it’s pay as you go, it’s consumption based pricing, it’s scalable, it’s easy in, easy to use and easy to exit.”

However, it seems that a cloud first mandate isn’t being driven by everyone working with the G-Cloud programme. Speaking at the same event earlier on in the day, deputy government CIO Liam Maxwell and Mark O’Neill, head of innovation and delivery at the Government Digital Service, both implied that it would be better if departments came to the realisation that cloud is better on their own.

O’Neill said that the benefits of G-Cloud should be so obvious that you shouldn’t need to tell people to do it.

However, McDonagh feels that the public sector is still being held back by its culture, where in the past hefty IT contracts have been handed to a select few suppliers for enormous amounts of money. She said that she hears ‘horror stories’ of people knowing that a required service is available through G-Cloud, but internal teams either think it’s ‘illegal’, they don’t consider it because they haven’t been told to, or they have mammoth requirements and T&C procedures to overcome.

“We need to start challenging these types of behaviours and processes. G-Cloud is legal, it’s here, it’s an open competition, it’s constantly challenged and it’s very competitive,” she said.

“I would ask any of the naysayers who do not believe that this is the case to come and have a chat to us and we will show you exactly how we have done it.”

McDonagh also told delegates that the G-Cloud framework will go through a number of iterations, with more suppliers being added each time and improvements being made based on feedback. Work on the third framework, G-Cloud iii, will begin before the end of the year.

She also said she would like it to morph into a broader framework for all government IT services.

“At the end of the day this programme is going to come to an end one day. These things have to be embedded in business as usual and be embedded in our psyche if we are to be sustainable in how we do this,” said McDonagh.

“I have an aspiration that the Cloudstore will become the Govstore, It wouldn’t just have G-cloud services on there, it will be about any services that we are selling across government from an IT perspective.”

Finally, McDonagh outlined how she hopes to overcome any barriers to adoption. She said that the G-Cloud needs ‘champions’ across the public sector to explain the benefits to users.

“One of the things that does frustrate me slightly, is that we can talk about the changes we want to make from the centre - some of us can sit in big delivery departments and say yes, we need to make the changes,” she said.

“But we really need to have champions in all aspects of the public sector, that have really bought into this, so that they can champion that into their own organisations. “

She added: “We need to do a lot more of that championing, and to do that we need to do a lot more about sharing what we do.”

In other news, Deputy government CIO, Liam Maxwell, has pledged to users and suppliers of the G-Cloud that he will be revealing improved and more streamlined security accreditation processes in the first quarter of next year.

He said: “One of the things I’m taking most seriously is the view that it takes so long to accredit. I give you a commitment, probably in about two or three months, we will have a more streamlined, more effective, accreditation scheme, which helps people get there.”

The government plans to accredit each service offered only once and then any government body can reuse that service without going through the accreditation process again.