Public sector still Cloud-wary but needs dynamic approach to cut costs and keep key services

By David Bicknell

I wasn’t at the Guardian’s SmartGov Live event this week, but what came out of it made for interesting reading.

For example, this article by Gill Hitchcock for the Guardian Professional Network gave an insight into the suspicion and lack of confidence  with which the public sector regards cloud computing.

According to the article, cloud computing is not a certainty to be used by public authorities, because those councils considering adopting it have to take account of the risks involved.

Chris Pope, director of transformation at Merton Council told SmartGov Live that he was “nervous” about adopting cloud computing and being infrastructure free.

“Why? Because I do not trust the supply market yet,” he said. “The number of instances of organisations taking their IT services back in-house, because the service they have got from their supplier has not been up to standard, are too frequent at the moment and there is too much risk at this stage … to be completely infrastructure free.”

Meanwhile, Steve Palmer, the chief information officer and head of ICT at Hillingdon council, was reported as saying that the aim should be to be as infrastructure free as possible.

Palmer,  who is also quoted in the Guardian report, believes the public sector is particularly vulnerable  in finding suppliers with enough capacity and resilience to be able to keep cloud services going during a major failure.

Andy Tait, who until the end of March was deputy director of the G Cloud programme at the Cabinet Office and is now head of public sector strategy for cloud services company VMware, emphasised that cloud is an approach to technology rather than a new technology.

Tait said that the UK public sector was under enormous pressure to cut costs, while maintaining critical frontline services, and IT has a significant role to play in achieving those objectives. “But it can only do that by facing the fundamental transformation to move from the direct and dedicated style of IT infrastructure to a more dynamic and shared common infrastructure that is possible through virtualisation and some cloud technologies,” he said.

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