Huddle continues G-Cloud success with public sector contract wins
SME concerned about future of cloud procurement programme
By Matthew Finnegan | Computerworld UK | Published: 09:15, 18 January 2013
Content collaboration software vendor Huddle has doubled the number of public sector deals secured this financial year, following successes with the government G-Cloud platform.
Huddle has been one of the main beneficiaries of the G-Cloud programme, set up to help smaller businesses offer innovative cloud services to government departments. The company now has a total of 40 public sector contracts in place this financial year, twice as many as the previous year.
The UK SME has also won 13 contracts in the government G-Cloud initiative so far, with recent deals including deployments of its content collaboration services to NHS South Cheshire CCG, Essex County Fire and Rescue Services, Surrey County Council, Dorset County Council and NHS 24.
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Although the proportion of deals being awarded to Huddle has fallen as more companies have entered the G-Cloud process, the company is currently the third most popular G-Cloud vendor in terms of deal value, providing services to the Forestry Commission and Crown Prosecution Service among others since the programme began.
In the first months of the G-Cloud programme Huddle accounted for a large majority of the money spent, with departments looking for an alternative to other file sharing tools such as Microsoft's popular Sharepoint.
"UK public sector is clearly placing cloud technology at the heart of its efforts to drive productivity, increase efficiencies and reduce IT costs," said Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle.
"As the figures show, Huddle is a true trailblazer in government cloud computing, enabling the public sector to move away from costly legacy systems that simply don't meet the needs of today's workforce."
In recent months Huddle has also expanded its services abroad in to Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greenland and Finland, and has also won a contract with the US Federal Government.
Huddle VP for Enterprise Simon O'Kane also mentioned at a conference held by the company yesterday that the firm would be doubling its sales force to deal with public sector contracts in the wake of its G-Cloud success.
Speaking to Computerworld UK, O'Kane welcomed the changes to public sector procurement in the G-Cloud process, but warned the programme needs to avoid 'diluting' its original aims in future in order to benefit both SMEs and government organisations.
"The G-Cloud programme in its initial intentions and vision was fantastic," he said. "It was originally set up to ultimately drive cost reductions and drive up innovation - new thinking and new technology that the government could take advantage of to deliver better services.
"It did a very good job in its initial inception in doing that. It brought companies like us through the programme, and as a result we were able to transact more business in government which is good for us and good for them as well. It helps an SME like us to grow.
"What I am sensing, time will tell, is that it is getting diluted down. It has gone beyond that original 'true cloud', into generally any sort of technology [or company] that wants to use it as an easier contracting vehicle. That wasn't the reason that it was set up."
He also said that widening the net for SMEs in the latest iteration of G-Cloud, has raised concerns that companies using technology from the big vendors have been able to enter the procurement process.
"I think you have seen some of the big vendors try to take advantage of that - be it directly or using small SME partners to use the simplicity of the contracting vehicle. It doesn't help the end users because they have got the same technology, and it doesn't help to promote the growth of UK SME companies, because it is fuelling the big guys again."