What is the UK Government G-Cloud Framework for Software in the Cloud?

Even more specifically, it only offers cloud-based services, but the number of services available is astounding. The G-Cloud framework boasts over 40,000 cloud services and over 5000 suppliers.

Cloud-based computing is the cornerstone of the G-Cloud platform. The types of cloud technology available encompass everything from Infrastructure as a Service to software solutions and cloud storage. Cloud providers play a crucial role in offering the diverse cloud services available through the G-Cloud framework, emphasizing their importance in delivering infrastructure, serverless computing, and security features.

The concept is simple: pre-approved cloud service providers use the framework to provide details about their companies and solutions. Buyers search the framework using keywords and filters and choose the best fit from the suppliers that appear in their search results.

There’s no need for contracting authorities to publish numerous contract notices and go through the entire procurement process to find suitable bidders. All the data they need is right there, in one spot. All they need to do is access it.

How Many Versions Of G-Cloud Are There?

G-Cloud was first introduced in 2012 and has gone through several iterations (updates, basically), each influenced by advancements in cloud computing technology, including the evolution of private cloud infrastructure alongside public and hybrid cloud environments.

The evolution from G-Cloud 12 to G-Cloud 14 has been marked by significant changes in cloud infrastructure, reflecting the growing complexity and capabilities of these environments.

With each iteration, G-Cloud has expanded to include a broader range of cloud services.

The current version, G-Cloud 14, is a good example of advanced cloud infrastructure that delivers a broader range of services while underscoring the importance of flexibility and the ability to adapt to the latest developments in cloud computing architecture.

About G-Cloud 12

G-Cloud 12 covered a 12-month period, starting on 28 September 2020. At the time, SMEs accounted for 91% of all listed suppliers, which supported the government’s objective to increase spending on SMEs by 33%.

Services were divided into three categories or Lots, each encompassing a range of cloud computing services.

Lot 1 was for Cloud Hosting services, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), for contracting authorities that need solutions that are scalable, flexible, and deliver cost savings.

Lot 2 was for Cloud Software services, including Software as a Service (SaaS), emphasising the benefits of cloud computing services such as improved security for cloud infrastructure and serverless computing.

Lot 3 was for Cloud Support services which helped set up and maintain Lot 1 (hosting) and 2 (software), as well as other multiple cloud services.

About G-Cloud 13

G-Cloud 13 brought in a few changes. It was the first time the framework was available through the Public Procurement Gateway (PPG) and not the Digital Marketplace.

Two other changes are the addition of a new Lot, and the extension of the call-off term, which is now 36 months with an option to extend by another 12 months.

Finally, G-Cloud 13 was adapted to be in line with the new public sector procurement regulations, like adding social value to the criteria and emphasising greater value for money across the board by ensuring buyers use the MAT method.

MAT (Most Advantageous Tender) has replaced MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender), making it possible for smaller enterprises to compete in the public sector market.

G-Cloud 13’s updates highlight the cloud’s capacity to scale computing power according to demand. Benefits for buyers include more efficient services, better management, and significant cost savings.

Let’s look at Lots

Lot 1 remains the same with Cloud Hosting services that cover archiving, disaster recovery, content delivery, data warehousing, platform security, protective monitoring, and data storage services.

Lot 2 remains the same with Cloud Software services that cover analytics and business intelligence, application security, customer relationship management, human resources and employee management, ICT, legal and enforcement, marketing, cloud software development, and logistics. 

Lot 3 remains the same with Cloud Support services that cover ongoing support, quality assurance, performance testing, setup and cloud migration, and security services. 

Introducing

Lot 4: It’s almost identical to Lot 3 but the difference is that it covers bigger and more complex requirements. One supplier is needed to fulfil all contract requirements (provide the services for the entire contract).

About G-Cloud 14

G-Cloud 14 also heralds change for the government framework. For starters, it’s designed to be more accessible for all enterprises, provide even more services, including a broader range of cloud computing resources, and facilitate a smoother declaration process for suppliers.

The enhanced declaration process enables suppliers to provide more detail regarding their business offerings, including multiple cloud computing services, which makes it easier for buyers to compare suppliers.

Even though the interface is more intuitive, the framework provides comprehensive guidance on cloud computing resources to make it even easier to navigate the system and optimise the procurement process.

G-Cloud 14 Lots

The Lots in G-Cloud 14 are virtually identical to those in G-Cloud 13, except for five changes.

  1. G-Cloud 14 has amped up search functionality, enabling contracting authorities to narrow their searches to specific criteria.
  2. Suppliers must bulk up information on their services (more specific criteria), including compliance with mandatory regulations, like cloud computing security standards.
  3. There are more opportunities for buyers to rate and review suppliers’ services, products, or works. Tactful or diplomatic feedback can lead to improved services or more innovative products.
  4. The framework now includes specialist cloud services, enabling niche service providers to add their companies to the list of approved suppliers.
  5. The contract period has been extended from 24 months to 36 months. This suits public sector bodies with more intricate needs because they can rely on business continuity and stability throughout the project.

G-Cloud 14: Joining the Public Cloud Services Framework

Let’s start with the key dates that lead up to awarding framework contracts.

  • Monday, 19 February 2024: Applications opened
  • Monday, 8 April 2024: Deadline for clarification questions
  • Wednesday, 24 April 2024: Clarification answers published on the Digital Marketplace
  • Tuesday, 7 May 2024: Applications closed.
  • Friday, 18 October 2024: Notification of successful applications
  • Monday, 28 October 2024: The mandatory standstill period ends
  • Tuesday, 29 October 2024: Framework contracts awarded

Now, let’s get on with G-Cloud applications.

Applications for G-Cloud 14

All interested cloud-based businesses must apply to join the framework, even those on G-Cloud 13.

This is because it’s an entirely new service. Those in public sector procurement would do well to prepare for the transition because G-Cloud 13 is winding down and will, ultimately, be removed.

It’s essential for suppliers to be very clear about their services because one of the foundations of the G-Cloud framework is transparency.

Here are five tips to make the transition easier.

  1. Come to grips with the new features so you don’t have to hit panic stations when the official transition between the cloud platforms occurs.
  2. Plan your transition. Once you’re familiar with the cloud computing platform, you can create an integration plan to ensure the move is smooth and disruption-free.
  3. Get to know the suppliers who offer the computing services you need. You’re allowed to ask clarification questions about their solutions, so make good use of the opportunity.
  4. Use the resources provided, including the comprehensive guide that takes all the anxiety out of the cloud-based procurement process.
  5. If you know any organisations that have submitted their applications, ask them for some advice.

G-Cloud Cloud Computing Services Benefits

G-Cloud is for anyone who wants to win government contracts – provided they meet the approval requirements. Small, medium, large, extra-large, everyone is welcome.

The simplification of the application process makes it easier for SMEs to get listed on the framework, which gives buyers a deeper supplier pool and increases their chances of finding an exact fit.

The framework is perfect ‘normal’ contracts that don’t have many layers, that are off-the-shelf, with no major adjustments needed.

Services are scalable, kind of like pay-as-you-go, offering a variety of cloud computing services through G-Cloud, including serverless computing, cloud storage, databases, and more, which can be easily scaled up or down based on demand.

Contracts can be awarded directly, with no Invitations to Tender (ITT), no Requests for Price (RFP), and no requests whatsoever. This slices a huge chunk off the procurement process and gives cloud computing suppliers a greater opportunity to advertise their services to buyers directly.

Buyers benefit from increased transparency because the front-end listings are detailed as far as cloud service definitions, pricing, and terms and conditions go.

The efficiency and cost-effectiveness of cloud-based data storage solutions are also highlighted, enabling buyers to save on storage space and other related expenses.

How Can Buyers Find The Cloud Service Provider They Need?

It’s a good idea to have a procurement plan to optimise your search for cloud computing service suppliers.

Make a list of all the contract’s needs and match them to the services required to meet those needs.

Try to categorise them according to the framework Lots. This will be very helpful in the next step.

Run separate searches for suitable suppliers in each Lot. However, bear in mind that the more suppliers you use, the more complicated supplier management gets, which can have knock-on effects throughout the supply chain.

It can help your cause if you look for suppliers that offer cloud computing services in more than one Lot. In fact, you can make this one of your criteria when you’re creating your shortlist of public cloud service providers.

Selection criteria and service provider evaluation

Develop a broad set of criteria that will help to evaluate suppliers on the list, including their compatibility with various operating systems and the cloud computing services they offer.

This evaluation should consider the reputation and capabilities of different cloud providers, comparing their ability to offer a comprehensive suite of services such as SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS, and how they manage cloud infrastructure and maintenance.

You can save the results of the searches and export them as a spreadsheet or CSV file, so you can better compare your options.

Develop a narrower set of criteria to assess suppliers on your shortlist, taking into account the technical requirements such as the stability of cloud computing architecture and the integrity of their cloud security systems.

Compliance with public procurement regulations

At this stage, buyers must bear in mind the regulations in the new Procurement Act. For instance, are suppliers compliant with all regulations, do they have the necessary certifications and accreditations?

Very importantly, do they meet MAT principles? Essentially, the question is how closely do suppliers adhere to the principles of the Most Advantage Tender method of selection? Do they offer better value, including social value, than a cheaper competitor?

For example, are their business operations environmentally friendly (solar panels, recycled products, low-energy equipment) or are they active in community upliftment initiatives?

With all this information to hand, you can make your selection. Then it’s just a matter of officially awarding the contract to the best cloud computing service provider and you’re good to go.

Succeed In Public Sector Procurement With Delta eSourcing

Even with the G-Cloud framework, it’s not always easy to find the supplier that best fits your needs. Delta eSourcing’s eTendering portal has over 100,000 active suppliers from all industries (not just cloud-based services). This includes hybrid cloud services and the hardware required to safely run different types of cloud computing software.

One of our strengths is that we already incorporate community building, collaboration, and transparency in our services for buyers and suppliers. The benefits spill over into every link in the supply chain.

Our supplier engagement and management services, needs analysis, and analytics are part of our broad range of solutions for contracting authorities and government body buyers. Find out more about our services by booking a free demo or contact us directly for more information.

 

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