Procurement Innovation for Cloud Services in Europe

Bob Jones, CERN
Focus Area: 

Cloud service procurement and the Digital Single Market

Who benefits and how: 

Public sector organisations, cloud service providers and policy makers will benefit from the result of PICSE: how to overcome procurement barriers through the implementation of best practices,  proposed model procurement processes and tools to facilitate procurement based on the checklists defined with procurement professionals and public sector stakeholders. A roadmap for future procurements and a call to action with recommendations for the key stakeholders.

The acquisition of IT services is a key function within any public or private organisation with the advent of cloud computing requiring innovation in the way IT service are procured.

While growing demand for computing power from the scientific community has resulted in initiatives such as Helix Nebula (, procurement policies, processes and approaches in many research organisations are inadequate for addressing the on-demand model of cloud computing, introducing barriers to procurement of cloud services. Such a barriers have been identified, described and analysed by PICSE (D2.1 and D3.2).

PICSE has published thirteen case studies (D2.2) documenting how public sector organisations worldwide have either carried out a process to procure cloud services, or are considering doing so. The experiences vary in terms of success and offer insights into how the procurement of cloud services is impacting on their current processes.

PICSE has identified and documented best practices in the areas of policy and organisation, processes, staff, tools and cloud service providers (D3.2).

The PICSE case studies are designed to improve the learning experience of European public research organisations in procuring cloud services. Among the key lessons learned from the case studies are the following:

  • Having the right skill set is fundamental for managing a successful procurement process.
  • Legal aspects and Data Processor Agreements are fundamental for public entities procurement.
  • Exit strategies when moving to the cloud should be carefully defined to avoid vendor lock-in.
  • Writing an effective tender is of paramount importance: when writing tender specifications it is recommended to have some pre-discussions with potential providers to better understand the solutions they can offer.
  • Standard and well-defined specifications work best.
  • Marketing the tender is the first step to ensure that at least the minimum number of responses are received.
  • Joint procurement actions can reduce the cost of developing specifications & contracts and improve purchasing conditions due to combined capacity.

In addition, at least five wishes shared by all the procurers emerge from the case studies:

  1. More transparency in cataloguing services.
  2. Catalogues of cloud service providers available for procurers’ consultation.
  3. A standalone test that could be used to verify the suitability of the services offered by the suppliers.
  4. Sample templates and guiding graphs to write public tenders.
  5. Accounting of cloud resources and comparing costs supported by standards.

PICSE has carried out extensive desktop research and has consulted with the main European public research organisations in order to identify the five main steps that characterise the standard process for procuring ICT services for the research sector:

  1. Planning & Preparatory phase (including the market consultation).
  2. Selection of the most appropriate procurement approach.
  3. Implementation of the procurement approach – such as by tender, RFQ[1] or RFP[2]
  4. Contract Award & Negotiation.

Contract & performance management/monitoring.

The result of this analysis has allowed PICSE to put together a first set of cloud procurement models, which describe the procurement steps in a cloud environment:

  • Commercial procurement
  • Joint procurement & pre-commercial procurement
  • Public procurement of innovation for procurement of innovative services

The procurement checklists are the basis of the PICSE Wizard, a web-based application that can be used by public research organisations to obtain guidelines on the most suitable model for procuring cloud services and for the self-assessment and evaluation of their procurement procedures. The PICSE Wizard has been designed to support IT managers & procurers in charge of the procurement of cloud services in public research organisations and is available at

The procurement model and networking activities of PICSE has led to the formation of a joint Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) for innovative cloud services by 10 public research organisations across Europe called HNSciCloud (

PICSE is currently finalising a Roadmap on Cloud Service Procurement for public research organisations with a call for actions for the major stakeholders, notably public sector research organisations, cloud service providers and policy makers. Contributions to this roadmap are actively sought by email request, find out how you can make your contribution: | @PICSEPROCURE

[1] Request for quotation

[2] Request for proposal