Life In The Digital Marketplace, 6: SCC, Birmingham

Feb 22, 2016

You do all the hard work, get on the Digital marketplace procurement framework - and then it's gravy time? Well, maybe not. We spoke with SCC's Kelvin Ayre, who head up its public sector cloud team, to get the more balanced view

Hi, Kelvin, can we start by understanding a bit about you and what SCC is all about?

We define our mission as to enable people to do business by planning, supplying, integrating and managing their IT, now running runs IT infrastructure and services for over 2,500 customers in more than 50 countries. We employ 2,000 people in 10 major cities, including our Birmingham headquarters, London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast, making us one of the UK's principal independent IT services providers. We own and operate Tier 3 Data Centres with 2,000 racks, networked in 18 Data Centres nationally, with 14 megawatts of power to our owned facilities, offfering the market more than 1,200 Cloud-based virtual servers and 600 terabytes of Cloud-based storage, with room for expansion. We were also the first provider to receive Pan-Government accreditation for our multi-tenanted cloud platform, Sentinel by SCC, which is our public sector cloud solution. We've got some relevant public sector case studies on our site 24n readers may be interested in, like our work at The Skills Funding Agency and The Highways Agency, while product information can be found here.

What led you into the public sector cloud market, then?

We delivered an IaaS solution connected through to PSN and direct links into clients through VPNs. What we realised then, was that there was no point in just trying to stand on IaaS as a solution, because there's going to be a lot of other organisations following suit. So we built a secure cloud environment, predominantly for IL3-level clients that had the capability to coexist with IL2 and IL0, so the security features within it would keep all of that segregated, and it would be a multi-tenanted environment for multiple instances and multiple clients. So we won a couple of contracts with those organisations who were happy to put their software and manage their software on our secure infrastructure. Now we offer a range of services from secure remote access, managed desktop, hosted desktop, MDM for the likes of IaaS and Windows environments, plus a PSN gateway, VDI, encrypted mail, dropboxes… building a portfolio of additional services to supplement the IL3 IAS that we created from day one.

OK, interesting, thanks Kelvin. So where are you guys vis-a-vis G-Cloud?

I think it has been a maturing process, G-Cloud; it is certainly a lot easier now for both buyer ansd supplier in 6 and 7 than it was in 1 to 5. And in terms of 7, obviously we have the experience of having done a number of previous submissions, so our work now is very much based on a solid knowledge foundation of what is required in submitting a response for G-Cloud 7.

I’d also say in general, the Marketplace is the right format to be able to present information useful to clients who are looking for, and in some instances very quickly looking, to identify a number of potential suppliers. It's a shop window, so as a supplier, you have got to be very clear on what you are delivering. Now, we have the benefits of having done all of that, and we have a team of people that have been with us consistently doing this since G-Cloud 3, which has been really useful for us. 

OK, based on that, what advice would you give smaller or newer firms engaging wih all this for maybe the very first time?

Well, some SMEs still believe that the Marketplace is a place to make money - that they can get onto it and that is going to be an opportunity for them to print money. That is not being disrespectful, because there is a lot of work that goes in behind what they do, but they do see it as that ticket to bigger revenues and bigger opportunity. And that is not the case.

The second thing is the security levels and some of the back office ISO capabilities that they need. Some new Digital Marketplace entrants seem unaware of all of that, and as a code company they think it is as simple as having a couple of code developers write some code, which is probably brilliant code, do some fantastic use case benefits, and that's it... but actually there is a lot more to it than meeting the government requirements to be able to provide something to the scale and the standard and the quality that government Departments require.

So I think there are still challenges for the SME community on G-Cloud, on both the financial compensation and also the ability to very quickly get onto these frameworks and deliver. It is not as easy as they may think. It’s a ticket to the table - and then the hard work starts!

Sobering advice, thanks, Kelvin. But from your point of view, getting on to G-Cloud has served its purpose?

Oh yes, of course it has; we are a known brand now, SCC, and Sentinel by SCC is definitely on our clients’ radar, particularly within civil government. 

Thanks, and good luck on G-Cloud 7!

To find out more about this G-Cloud-7 supplier, go here

We are looking for other companies enjoying success on the Digital Marketplace and would love to feature your experiences in this new on-going editorial series. Please get in touch with us here to kick start that process.

(c) 2016

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