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Excellent networking sessions on cloud procurement at ICT2015

ICT2015 this year was the perfect location for PICSE to meet opinion leaders from EU funding agencies, industry and research sector to discuss the main challenges and best practices related to cloud procurement.

In particular on the 21st of October 2015, over 30 representatives of European initiatives dealing with cloud services for public sector and from industries participated to the PICSE networking session Fast forward to the digital single market: procurement of cloud services.

The session opened with the presentation given by Sara Garavelli, Trust-IT Services: Procuring cloud services today: barriers, opportunities & tools.

The presentation set the floor for the panel discussion. The panel was chaired by Daniele Catteddu, Cloud Security Alliance, who drove the discussion around the following different themes:

  • What should Procurement, Sourcing, and Human Resource Professionals know to be ready?
  • What would you consider are the key elements to extract the full benefit of the cloud for public sector?
  • What recommendations would you give to cloud service providers to extract fully the benefits & overcome potential challenges?
  • What best practices would you recommend to streamline the procurement process of public sector organisations and understand its impact?
  • What’s on your priority list for call for actions for a procurement roadmap for public sector?

The panel was composed by the following members:

  • Carmela Asero, Policy Analyst, European Commission Joint Research Centre and PICSE Task Force Chair
  • Bernd Becker, EuroCloud President
  • Daniel Field, Deputy Head of IT Sector Research and Innovation Group, Atos Spain SA & SLALOM project
  • Roberto Di Bernardo, Research & Development Laboratory, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica & CLIPS project
  • Giovanna Galasso, Senior Manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory SpA
  • James Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Blue & PICSE Task Force member

Panellists shared their personal perspectives on procurement of cloud services with the audience through an open discussion.

Main outcomes:

  • Training and raising awareness about cloud computing are fundamental aspects to speed up the cloud uptake. Many departments within public sector organisations do not understand what the shift to the cloud means. They are not even aware on how to manage the move from capital to operational expenditure. Language can also be a barrier because usually public sector procurement officers work in their country language. Having a EU catalogue of cloud technical specifications with translations in the different EU countries could facilitate them in understanding the contracts and in writing tenders.
  • It is necessary for procurers to know best practices and how other administrations have tackled similar issues. Currently there is a lack of champions showcasing their cloud success stories (The PICSE Report, Procuring Cloud Services today goes in this direction).
  • Public (but also private) procurers are motivated to move towards buying products only if they recognize the benefits. The users need to be able to recognize the real value of the cloud. For instance more or less all the individuals use Gmail, that is an example of a Software as a Service, and no one cares about data protection, security etc. the success of Gmail relies in its value. Cloud Service Providers should better describe the added value of the service and advertise it properly (also adopting traditional media channels e.g.  TV spots).
  • Public procurers should adopt the "onion approach": starting procuring cloud by purchasing a non-critical application. This will allow them to understand the impact of the cloud on the organisation.
  • Writing cloud tenders vs understanding cloud contracts. Writing specifications for a cloud tender is not easy. It requires technical, legal and financial knowledge specific to the cloud. Sometimes the organisation cannot understand the value and the costs related to the cloud adoption until they test it. Trying the service before buying it is a good practice, when possible. On the other hand, cloud service providers are complaining because the customers do not understand what they sell. Common definitions to compare contracts, to measure cloud performance and ROI would facilitate the work of procurers.
  • The legal framework remains one of the main barriers for cloud adoption. The legal and regulatory landscape around cloud is by no means static. There are new laws being proposed that could change the responsibilities of both cloud computing tenants and providers. This creates practical challenges in understanding how laws apply to the different parties under various scenarios. Nevertheless it is important also to consider the legal issues, specifically those around any data you might collect, store and process.
  • All the providers of Cloud Services (IaaS, Paas, SaaS and others) are developing their own offering each one according to different business models, technologies and usage patterns. This phenomenon leads to a lack of standardization and to poor interoperability and eventual vendor lock – in. The procurers should try to avoid vendor lock in:
    • by including an exit and migration strategy in their purchasing considerations prior to making any final procurement decision
    • by being aware of the risks associated with closed or proprietary solutions which can limit the ability to transfer efficiently data or applications in the future.
    • by being aware of the benefits of the open standards so that they are able to determine whether a proposed offering is open or not in procurement situations.

 

On the 22nd of October the discussion continued in another newtworking session organised by the CLIPS project Empowering Public Services Through The Cloud: Opportunities And Barriers. Key experiences and lessons from a selection of EU projects including CLIPS, STORM CLOUDS, PICSE, EENVIPER and INGEOCLOUDS were fundamental to confirm the above mentioned otucomes and for having an in-depth discussion.