James Bond would never wait nine months or more to buy certain forms of cutting-edge IT services, so why does the U.S. government?
The UK government – home to the real-life secret agency, MI6, where the fictional Bond worked – is better at acquiring and putting to use cloud computing and other IT services than its American counterparts.
That thanks in part to a special initiative -- known as the G-Cloud contract -- designed to make it easier for government agencies to connect with cloud providers.
Through its Digital Marketplace, British government agencies have access to a comprehensive listing of cloud service suppliers available through pre-vetted vendors working on six-month acquisition cycles.
Created in 2012, the cloud marketplace’s popularity not only attracted vendor support – it now boasts 1,200 suppliers and 13,000 services – but also alleviated major acquisition headaches the UK government previously faced implementing cloud services.
News of its growing success has reached across the pond.
“In the UK, the G-Cloud contract completely disrupted the way they do acquisitions in the government,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president of Amazon Web Services’ worldwide public sector business.
Carlson oversees Amazon’s global public sector cloud business, including its position as a supplier on the G-Cloud contract itself. While the acquisition cycle is challenging for suppliers because they have to rapidly update their products and packages, Carlson said, it’s made much easier for UK government agencies.
“As a vendor, we have to re-up every six months,” Carlson said, speaking at the Mobile Tech Summit in Washington, D.C., last week. That can be a “bit painful” for vendors, Carlson acknowledged, but there are benefits. “You can get on the contract really fast and every government agency has access to all these vendors.”
Agencies can run a task order for the services they desire and begin operations. While the U.S. government’s use of cloud computing is on the rise, with some $7 billion allocated for provisioned services in the coming year by the Obama administration, most cloud service providers take at least nine months to get approved for use by agencies.