Public sector bodies in the UK can buy cloud-based IT services from more than 3,500 suppliers via the new 'G-Cloud 10' framework, which went live on Tuesday.

More than 90% of the 3,505 suppliers whose services are available to procure are SMEs, according to a joint statement issued by the Crown Commercial Service and Government Digital Service.

The G-Cloud is a framework for UK public sector bodies to buy cloud-based IT services. There have been now been 10 iterations of the G-Cloud since the first version went live in February 2012. Through the G-Cloud, UK public sector bodies can access a wide range of pre-vetted vendors and services, through an open, transparent and competitive online platform, known as the Digital Marketplace.

Standardised contract terms apply to transactions, and there are pre-approval guarantees that suppliers meet privacy and security requirements. For IT suppliers, there is an opportunity to win major public sector contracts by having their services indexed and searchable by buyers. There is streamlined process for suppliers to join the marketplace, which is designed to encourage participation and competition from SMEs.

According to the government, "more than £3 billion of cloud and digital services have been procured by public bodies through G-Cloud" since it was introduced.

Oliver Dowden, minister for implementation, said: "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, delivering innovative solutions in partnership with the public sector, fuelling economic growth and supporting the delivery of efficient, effective public services that meet the needs of citizens. The success of G-Cloud demonstrates how we are breaking down the barriers for SMEs who want to supply to government."

Claire Edwards, an expert in technology contracts at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said earlier this year that the G-Cloud is a model other countries should follow. She said others can learn from the improvements made to the G-Cloud security process over its various iterations.

In March, when details of the G-Cloud 10 arrangements were publicised by the government, Edwards said: "The government, through the various iterations of the G-Cloud, has made a number of changes to the procurement platform and processes to make it easier for government departments and other public bodies to adopt cloud-based solutions. Similarly, it has taken steps to reduce the burdens on suppliers in relation to bidding to win the right for their services to be listed under the frameworks and to increase the visibility of those solutions."

"The G-Cloud remains imperfect, but it has seen growing levels of use across the public sector and increasing interest from suppliers. The figure outlined by the government, that SMEs have benefited from £1.4 billion of work through the G-Cloud frameworks since its inception, highlights one of the central purpose of the G-Cloud frameworks – the breaking up of monolithic and long-term government IT contracts," she said.

"It is to be hoped that the progress made in the previous iterations of the G-Cloud continue under G-Cloud 10. By bringing forward the introduction of G-Cloud 10, the government will ensure that public sector IT customers will have access to the latest cloud-based technologies and services," Edwards said at the time.

The summer 2018 launch of G-Cloud 10 was not originally envisaged by the UK government when it announced in November 2017 plans to extend the term of the G-Cloud 9 framework by up to a year. However, pressure from suppliers reportedly spurred a rethink.

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