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December 1, 2010

Westminster City Council CIO doubts G-Cloud initiative

David Wilde also rules out taking government CIO role

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Westminster City Council CIO David Wilde has told CBR that while the planned G-Cloud sounds good in theory it is perhaps not the best way for the government to achieve IT efficiency.

The G-Cloud is a wide-ranging project that aims to create a secure cloud infrastructure, hosting services and applications to be used across the government and local public sector bodies around the UK. The aim is to reduce costs and improve efficiency, something that took on extra significance with the government’s recent Spending Review.

However, David Wilde, CIO at Westminster City Council, questioned the scheme and asked whether it is in fact significantly different from the Public Sector Network (PSN), which aims to create, "a ‘network of networks’ for the Public Sector from the existing commercial networks, and will develop a market place providing opportunities for industry, and savings for the Public Sector," according to its brief.

"The PSN will change the way Government Departments and Agencies, Local Authorities, and the Third Sector buy and use Voice and Data Networks. It will drive efficiencies in procurement, through a range of technical and service standards, which will lead to an open, collaborative environment for all UK Public Sector employees," the website says.

"I’m more sceptical about G-Cloud," Wilde told us. "The PSN is spot on; it’s absolutely the right way to go. The concept of a network of networks is great; it makes perfect sense to me. I think the idea of an overarching G-Cloud for government begs the question: What’s different about G-Cloud? What sets it apart from PSN or managed services? Why would we want to create something with a G on the front rather than just work with the industry to make them deliver what we want?"

"The underlying stuff within there makes sense, I just don’t get the brand. The government has a strong enough brand as it is. One of the dangers when you have something like G-Cloud is that the government might try to interpret its own version of cloud," he continued. "There is one; it’s pretty straightforward. The business case stacks up and I think people’s understanding of it is pretty straightforward. Why would you want a G flavour?"

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Wilde also spoke about the recent announcement that John Suffolk, government CIO and one of the drivers behind the G-Cloud, was stepping down from his role and denied being interested in replacing him.

"I’m not interested. I like the role I’m in. There are people more aligned to what’s going on in central government than me, I’ve been out of central government for quite a few years now. What interests me more is potentially tying up with the private sector. Maybe to work with a company to create a new business model or to stay where I am to start to create shared services across London boroughs."

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