DWP and Home Office considering procuring SIAM services through G-Cloud
G-Cloud team also hoping to offer higher security classification services on CloudStore
Both the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Home Office are currently considering the future of their service integration and management (SIAM) services, and in particular whether they could be fully or partially procured through the CloudStore.
The DWP's current SIAM contract with HP, signed in 2002 and worth £444m, is due to expire in September 2014. With a need to replace the services provided under the contract, the department is currently examining what to buy and how to buy it, officials say. More broadly, the DWP is designing what the future SIAM will look like and the scope of services included within it.
For some government departments, SIAM is an integral element of the service towers model. Instead of each organisation within the group making its own arrangements, the parent body sets up a group of towers for different service areas - such as desktops, applications, hosting and networks - to be used by all of its bodies.
While each tower can have a lead supplier, a strategic partner is appointed to manage the whole group, with responsibilities from the early planning to the implementation, monitoring and support for IT services. It effectively extends the role of a systems integrator to take on more day to day management over the long term. However, the role of SIAM is still evolving.
The current contract means that the DWP's SIAM services are fully outsourced, but the department is "currently considering whether it may be worth bringing some services back in-house", departmental officials say. Although DWP's approach is to "disaggregate our services as much as possible, in alignment with the government's IT strategy", the officials are yet to decide which services they wants to procure and which they want to bring back in-house.
The department is now focusing on disaggregating services, trying to attract SMEs, driving down cost and having shorter contracts, officials say. The DWP has now essentially instituted a cloud first policy, whereby it will always consider if it can procure through G-Cloud first, then if not through existing government frameworks, and then if neither is appropriate it will go down a more traditional route.
The Home Office, whose IT director is G-Cloud programme director Denise McDonagh, is understood to be following a similar path to the DWP in pursuing a cloud first policy. Unlike the DWP, however, the department has not had a SIAM contract with one single supplier in the past, and is now looking at what its next steps might be, according to Home Office officials. The department has already migrated the core services to a tower-based approach, and is planning to procure multiple SIAM services from multiple suppliers. However, officials say, "The transition will take place in small incremental steps, rather than in one single 'big bang'."
Like the DWP, the Home Office is considering the scope of which services will be kept in-house and which will be outsourced. Officials say the likely outcome will be a mix of the two. However, the key difference from the DWP is that while the DWP has an existing service that it needs to replace, the Home Office is "doing something new", according to one official.
Officials accept that there will be a number of challenges in purchasing SIAM services through G-Cloud. These include the requirement for flexibility, the difficulty of end-to-end monitoring as services become more disaggregated, the fact that the services will have to adhere to a variety of different security levels, and the imperative to support external users as well as, or indeed even more than, internal users.
One official said, "As the government shifts towards focusing on digital channels and digital delivery, we need a solution that provides good quality outward facing services as well as inward ones. We still do most of our outward-facing stuff over the phone, but we need to shift to the web as that's how people prefer to function nowadays."
One DWP official was keen to emphasise that the department will only bring or keep services in-house where truly feasible, and said that, while the department "needs to drive up capability within the department, we will need to rely on the supplier and consultancy community to help."
Echoing these comments, a Home Office official said, "in general, the view is, we will work out what we need and then ask what the market is offering. If we can't get stuff through G-Cloud we won't, but that shouldn't be a common issue. We will look at what's out there and what's the best fit for what we want...but we want to do it in a commoditised way."
Responding to questions as to whether higher 'confidential' security classification services, in other words those above IL3, are appropriate to be procured through the CloudStore, a G-Cloud programme official responded, "Yes, as soon as suppliers start offering them to G-Cloud. We are looking for confidential [IL4] hosting capability and it would be good to see those sorts of services appearing on the CloudStore."