Empty words

G-Cloud is a disaster, and the Government’s seems to have little interest in supporting its aims, says Alex Rabbetts.

What a disaster! Those lucky people that remember the launch of the government’s G-Cloud initiative may well remember representatives of G-Cloud making huge statements about the government’s spending on IT and how they had mandated that all new services would be procured via G-Cloud and all existing services would be migrated to G-Cloud if at all possible.

They said that the wanted the majority of government spending on IT services to be placed with SMEs and that they wanted to realise the cost benefits of not using the major systems integrators.

Many SMEs invested significant sums of money getting themselves geared up for, and registered on, G-Cloud.

Only to be told a year later that they needed to go through the whole process again for G-Cloud 2, followed by G-Cloud 3, G-Cloud 4, G-Cloud 5 and now G-Cloud 6!

Amazingly, some SMEs stuck with the G-Cloud story and continued to go through the registration process, to invest in ensuring that they were able to deliver G-Cloud services, even though the spend on G-Cloud was a mere fraction of what had been suggested at its launch.

So, the GCloud disaster has rumbled on and on. But wait! A new service has recently been launched by Companies House. True, it is in beta, (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk), and true, it is offered via the  www.gov.uk portal!

But what is most incredible of all is where it is hosted – not with some struggling SME that has invested so much time and effort into G-Cloud, not with a UK company that is providing highly secure, quality services to an immensely important Government service. Unbelievably, the service is hosted by Amazon Web Services!!

Yes, it is true. Over 170 million digital records on companies and directors including financial accounts, company filings and details on directors and secretaries throughout the life of the company are being stored on an American company’s servers.

That would be the same American company that, regardless of where the data is held, will be subject to the USA Freedom Act, (replacement for the USA Patriot Act), giving American authorities almost unfettered access to the data stored there.

The same company that has historically paid virtually no tax in the UK because it was using legal loopholes to avoid it. The same company that had sales last year in excess of $88bn!

G-Cloud is a disaster. It has been a disaster from the beginning.

It was an ill thought through initiative that has failed on many levels.

But this latest debacle just adds insult to injury for those SME companies that invested so much time, money and effort into making their services available via the G-Cloud, only to find that instead of using them to provide these important services, the Government has chosen one of the largest foreign companies, over which they have little or no control, to host incredibly important UK company data.

Great job! This really demonstrates just how committed the UK Government is to supporting British businesses and SMEs in particular!

By Alex Rabbetts is chief executive of data centre consultancy MigSolv

Colin Marrs

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