Six weeks ago, Salesforce.com joined the UK government’s G-Cloud. This initiative allows government agencies to procure services without the need for separate contract negotiations. Brainchild of Minister Francis Maude, it promotes a cloud-first approach with transparent variable costs to public service delivery teams.
What’s in it for Salesforce.com?
With this agreement, all Salesforce.com’s services across its six produce lines of sales, service, maketing cloud, chatter, work.com and force.com will be visible to potential government customers in the CloudStore. Individual developers or service delivery staff will be able view availability, compare cost/benefit and purchase after normal internal approval processes. This additional visibility is a significant boost for Salesforce.com, and augurs well for future service introductions.
The company has necessary certifications to pitch to the US government, and it is now targeting the European public sector. Salesfoce.com has addressed some of the compliance issues around data residency that were a barrier, with the introduction of Data Residency Option for its Database.com service that allows subscribing organisations to run the applications in the public cloud but store data wherever they chose. Salesforce.com remains committed to building a data center in the UK, and we’ve narrowed it down to two co-location providers. We don’t have an exact date or timeline yet, but we’ll keep you updated on any major advancements.
What does this mean for the G-Cloud initiative?
Since the CloudStore opened for business in February, it has been touted as the answer to many prayers, from SME IT supplier engagement to lower cost for government services. The first wave of the G-Cloud service catalogue included bids from nearly 300 suppliers (approx 50% SMEs) offering a total of around 1,700 services. However, our conversations with local government agencies suggest these are commodity services and depend on some internal capability to tune for relevance. The inclusion of a recognised global cloud player is seen as a welcome boost to an otherwise unvarying collection of services.
At the macro level, adoption has been lacklustre as the ‘online catalogue’ nature of this initiative dominated discussions. The opportunity to fully embrace the cloud is being held hostage by the shackles of under-utilised data centers managed within the scope of expensive outsourcing contracts. Despite Francis Maude’s vision that CloudStore will enable public sector organisations to buy off-the-shelf IT services on a pay-as-you-go basis, progress has been slow.
What does this mean for UK public sector employees?
Like commercial organisations, government agencies are also working out new work practices that embrace the tech-savvy ways of Gen-Y in the workplace. CloudStore and the opportunity to view options especially from well marketed brands such as Salesforce.com are significant developments in modernising the workplace. Public services and its employees will also have to anticipate greater demand for cloud based services by connected and informed citizens.
However, by sticking to traditional internal approval processes, the promise of nimble services is being throttled. To fully empower employees to exercise judgement, existing government contracts for IT delivery must be reviewed more aggressively.