SCC, the technology solutions brand of SCH, Europe’s largest independent IT Group, has today announced gaining Pan Government Accreditation for its new Secure Multi-Tenanted Cloud service (SMTC), the cornerstone of OptimiseCloud™, becoming the first UK provider to achieve this accreditation. Capitalising on strong initial interest from a range of public sector organisations, the platform's first customers have already signed up and are scheduled to go live over the coming months.
The accredited Secure Multi-Tenanted Cloud service (SMTC) is part of a broader strategy built on the firm's long-term investment in Cloud technology. The company unveiled a £25 million state of the art Data Centre facility in October 2010 - subsequently voted Green Data Centre of the Year in 2011 – and is focused upon delivering advanced, cost-effective Cloud services for the public sector.
“We’re delighted. Our customers have been talking about G-Cloud for a long time, but their adoption of services was hampered by the lack of accredited solution. That situation has changed. We took a leading role from the beginning and it was important to us to remain focused on our vision and the goal of building a real G-Cloud service – think Amazon but built for the UK Public Sector, hosted in an environmentally friendly UK data centre, operated by a UK Company” said Tracy Westall, SCC’s UK Public Sector Director.
Traditionally dominated by large system integrators, the public sector outsource market is set for revitalisation in response to UK government plans that challenge the way IT has been delivered.
Following accreditation SCC can now supply IL2 and IL3 Cloud services to the public sector, maximising the concept of the Cloud by nurturing an effective multi-tenanted environment built around concepts such as pay-per-use, leveraged infrastructure, capacity on demand and access for new software players.
With a successful public sector track record going back 30 years, SCC is well versed in both the opportunities and the challenges involved, with suppliers and government organisations alike facing a number of entrenched issues around security and communication.
Of significant importance to the SME community is expected to be the SMTC platform’s ability to deliver Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to make access to public sector easier for those small businesses offering Cloud-based solutions. SCC continues to the drive development of SaaS as a matter of priority, with SME suppliers now afforded a truly effective route to market, enabling them to compete on a level playing field with larger suppliers via the newly accredited Cloud platform.
Westall added: “Undoubtedly, the SMEs we already work with will soon begin to challenge large software providers. The fact that we have proactively addressed the fundamental issues that plague smaller firms looking to do business with the public sector – such as the cost of entry, security and the lack of tangible business that usually underpins investment - means that what SCC has done is very difficult to replicate. As a company that began life as an SME, we have a very real understanding of the challenges facing smaller operations.”
In May 2012, Informatics Merseyside announced it had appointed SCC as it Strategic Partner for Cloud delivery and a core of what will be delivered through this partnership will sit in the newly accredited platform. Informatics Merseyside is a Health Informatics organisation operating as a shared service across a range of health organisations and has embraced the vision of what Cloud can do to impact clinical excellence and 21st Century delivery.
Adopting a transparent approach throughout the development process to ensure that that the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance (formerly CESG) and Government stakeholders were made aware of any challenges and any concerns were faced head-on, SCC built its solution from scratch, identifying this as the only viable route to achieve the desired outcome.
Convinced that this foresight has enabled the company to achieve significant advantage over its competitors, Westall explained:
“Achieving IL3 accreditation was always the target for us because this area has previously been closed to the broader supplier community, yet is also a key point at which massive government costs could be challenged. As we progressed with our plan it became clear that the reason that no one had ever tackled this before is because it is difficult to do, and I do not believe we could have achieved what we have inside such tight timescales had we not invested in a greenfield build. A retrospective accreditation fit would have been almost impossible and certainly more expensive.”
A platform including secure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) on a Virtual Machine/Terabyte basis with IL2 and IL3 in the same physical infrastructure, the rubber stamped cloud solution enables reduced cost delivery of traditionally expensive services by maximising the return from costs generated from equipment, management layer and network infrastructure.
While an avid supporter of the programme, Westall points out that SCC’s journey has not been without challenges.
“With no contract comfort to underwrite the investment and limited access to Government to test our ideas it has been a long journey and an expensive one. Clearly this represents a significant risk, but we believe the potential rewards outweigh any dangers and are confident of its future success.”
Having gained a reputation as a company that understands Cloud technology and what it can do for an organisation, SCC has targeted the opportunity to deliver and transform public sector delivery through large scale investment and commitment of resources. Reflected in many of its customer engagements from SMEs to large organisations, many commentators believe that its recognised expertise and drive has underpinned the G-Cloud development process.
Home Office IT Director Denise McDonagh, G-Cloud Programme Director said: “Increased use of technology, and the Cloud in particular, provide a fantastic opportunity for public sector organisations to be more efficient and the G-Cloud programme is about establishing a flexible, cost-effective framework which is also secure and meets the needs of the public sector so we're delighted that SCC is the first UK provider to gain Pan Government Accreditation.”