https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2012/09/18/introducing-a-new-supplier-skyscape/

Introducing a new supplier (Skyscape)

As you will know, we at GDS are building GOV.UK, currently in beta at www.gov.uk. As part of that process we have been thinking about the best way to host the new platform. Mark O’Neill, Head of Service Delivery and Innovation, introduces one of our new suppliers.

In the past, we might have looked at dedicated servers or possibly even our own rack in a datacentre somewhere. We would then have had to decide if we wanted to own the servers or if we should rent them some time to break out amortisation tables and spreadsheets. We would have to make sure that we were not locked in if we needed to move servers, so it would be necessary to negotiate break clauses in contracts; we would need to arrange access to server rooms for security accreditation; we would need to… well, the list goes on and on.

The cloud has transformed all of this. Through the G-Cloud framework we are able to simply and rapidly buy highly reliable, highly cost-effective hosting services.

Colleagues in GDS put together a statement of our requirements based on the experience we had gained during the alpha and the ongoing beta releases of GOV.UK and experience from the delivery of other major online services, both public and private sector.

We then tested that statement of requirements against the list of suppliers on the G-Cloud framework. This allowed us to sift the number of potential providers down to four who met the statement of requirements.

We then invited each of the suppliers in and used a consistent set of questions to explore their ability to meet our needs, their approach to operational service delivery and how they could provide flexible, scalable services through the cloud.

To meet the needs of GOV.UK, we are planning to work with a number of different Infrastructure as a Service providers. We are happy to announce that the first cloud hosting provider we are working with is Skyscape.

We have used G-Cloud previously for a number of small projects covering services like hosting and operations. We were very happy to discover that letting a major service contract for our flagship platform, GOV.UK, was equally straightforward and quick.

Whilst the GOV.UK contract is the largest we have let so far, it is one of an increasing number we are letting through G-Cloud, which is now our standard way of procuring infrastructure services.

If you have not used G-Cloud before then take a look, you will be pleasantly surprised. In the words of a song of my youth, “It was easy. It was cheap. Go and do it!”

6 comments

  1. Andy Paddock

    I’m a bit dissapointed with the name ‘Skyscape’. When trudging through the rather dull official documentaion on web auditing, seeing names like ‘Bunny Foot’ realy brightened my day.

    Reply
  2. Government Digital Service sets an example on cloud | Campaign4Change

    [...] Introducing a new supplier – Skyscape Share this:TwitterLinkedInEmailStumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Campaign4Change, Cloud, cost reduction, efficiency savings, Government IT, IT projects, private sector lessons for the public sector, procurement, public sector, public services, reducing cost strategically and tagged Cabinet Office, Cloud, Cloud Computing. Bookmark the permalink. ← A “best friend” of Francis Maude joins Cabinet Office as COO [...]

    Reply
  3. Taxman signs up for cloud storage over PSN | Technology News

    [...] “Whilst the gov.uk contract is the largest we have let so far, it is one of an increasing number we are letting through G-Cloud, which is now our standard way of procuring infrastructure services,” Mark O’Neill, head of innovation and delivery at GDS, said. [...]

    Reply
  4. Taxman signs up for cloud storage over PSN | Technology News Hub

    [...] “Whilst the gov.uk contract is the largest we have let so far, it is one of an increasing number we are letting through G-Cloud, which is now our standard way of procuring infrastructure services,” Mark O’Neill, head of innovation and delivery at GDS, said. [...]

    Reply
  5. dmossesq

    This business about Skyscape, the Cloudstore and GDS is fascinating, Mark, thank you. And I note that HMRC also have contracted for cloud services with Skyscape. Just a few questions.

    Skyscape is too young to have filed any accounts yet with Companies House, so we have no idea about its P&L and its balance sheet. On the other hand, we do know from Companies House that Skyscape’s registered office is at Hartham Park, Hartham, Corsham, Wilts SN13 0RP. And that it has a paid up share capital of just £1,000. The company turns out to have just one director, a Mr JR Sanders. And just one shareholder, the same Mr JR Sanders.

    Q1: just how small does a company have to be to fall below the exacting standards you set for the safety of GOV.UK?

    Q2: GDS and HMRC seem to have contracted not so much with one company as with one man. Do you think that’s wise?

    Skyscape claim to be in some sort of an “alliance” with five other companies including ARK Continuity.

    ARK Continuity’s registered address is Hartham Park, Hartham, Corsham, Wilts SN13 0RP. One of its directors, a Mr JP Thomas, who owns £3.20 of ARK’s £16 issued share capital, used to own one share in Skyscape, but transferred it to Mr JR Sanders on 19 April 2012.

    Q3: do you know, just what does this “alliance” amount to?

    ARK is basically a property company and on its website it proudly displays its Spring Park data centre at Hartham Park, Hartham, Corsham, Wilts SN13 0RP. They provide a map of how to get there and helpfully add that the MoD have secure facilities nearby.

    Q4: GOV.UK and HMRC’s Skyscape contracts cover important national assets and if the blabbermouths at ARK have given away their current location could you arrange for them to be moved?

    Obviously you’re busy and this might be too much of an imposition in the case of a traditional data centre. But I understand that with cloud computing you just press a button and the application disappears from one virtual server and effortlessly spins up immediately on another one.

    Q5: Is that correct?

    Reply
    • Louise Kidney

      Mr Moss,

      Further to your queries and comments regarding Skyscape, we note that you have since received a reply to these over on the G-Cloud blog

      Reply

Leave a comment