Tag Archives: Cloud Computing

Government publishes cloud computing, end user device, Green IT and ICT Capability strategies

By David Bicknell

The government has published four strategies which it says, “provide the environment and approaches to radically transform the ICT landscape to create a more productive, flexible workforce that delivers digital public services in a much more cost effective way.”

According to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, the four strategies “link together to fully exploit the cost opportunities arising from technology developments; and to increase the capability and capacity of Government to manage its own ICT and reduce reliance on expensive consultants and contractors.”

The strategies include cloud computing, which Maude says, “details how we will exploit cloud computing to transform the Government ICT estate into one that is agile, cost effective and sustainable.  Government will adopt an approach of ‘public cloud first’ whilst recognising the requirement for secure private cloud provision in some areas. 

“Government will move away from expensive, long-duration bespoke solutions to a common approach – sharing resources and infrastructure to enable us to become a consumer of widely available, ever improving mass market products and solutions.  Many of these solutions will be available for reuse from the Government Application Store.”

“Through significant rationalisation of our data centre estate – moving to a commodity approach towards hosting – we will increase utilisation and efficiency, thus reducing CO2 emissions, accommodation and energy costs.”

The other strategies published include Greening Government ICT, which provides a practical approach to reducing energy costs increasing the sustainability of the ICT estate; an End-User Device strategy which the government says will redefine the way that Government departments work; and an ICT Capability strategy.

“Supporting the Civil Service Reform programme and our ability to significantly reduce our estate and associated costs, the End-user Device strategy will give  public sector workers the freedom to work from any location on any suitable government or non-government device,” says Maude.

On  the ICT Capability strategy, he argues that government will not be able to fully exploit the opportunities from all its strategies without ensuring that the people it employs have the right skills and techniques to manage and run them effectively. The ICT Capability strategy will use a professional framework to put in place structures and processes to increase the capability of ICT professionals at all levels and reduce expenditure on external expertise.

You can access the strategy documents here

Aftermath of the riots: lending SMEs a helping hand

With the pictures of the aftermath of  last night’s riots still embedded in the memory and  with dozens of SMEs literally picking up their pieces of their businesses, perhaps it is time for the large to offer help to the small.

Larger business have IT facilities and premises that could be utilised in the short term to help SMEs get on their feet in the affected cities  and London boroughs.

IT suppliers could do their bit in tiding over SMEs who need IT facilities, perhaps provided by Cloud-hosted systems. Now is the opportunity for the Cloud to deliver a solution which is up and running and available quickly.

In addition, the government could be putting some of its array of IT  to good use, giving London-based business a leg up. Insurance will help, and the Federation of Small Businesses has already been pointing out the urgency today.   But SMEs need more. And they need it now.

If you can help, we suggest you contact the Federation of Small Businesses on 01253 336000    http://www.fsb.org.uk/

Former Dragon James Caan tells SMEs ‘cloud computing has changed the landscape’

By David Bicknell

An article in ITPro magazine featuring former Dragon’s Den presenter James Caan describes the benefits for SMEs of cloud computing.

Caan insists advancing technology and the growth of the online industry makes it easier and more efficient now to set up your own business and access information faster.

” It (cloud computing) has changed the landscape quite significantly. Companies no longer need to have large bulky archives with all their databases written on papers. Cloud computing enables all this information to be stored online in a digital format, with little limitations on size.

“What’s also very important is that cloud computing enables information and data access anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection. My private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw uses cloud computing and I’m still amazed how efficient the system is.

“I was recently abroad and I wanted to show my colleague some fairly large documents. I was able to access the files and information within minutes. Of course there is a risk with cloud computing, but security is high on the agenda for cloud computing companies. They are continuously updating their processes for user security.”

And believes Caan, that focus on security is something more SMEs should be aware of, even if their times is limited.

“I think all companies, not just start-ups, aren’t doing enough for their business information security. In the case of small businesses this may be down to the perception that they aren’t in a high risk position. As a business owner you wouldn’t leave the front door of your office open at night so why would you put your information assets at risk?

“Business owners are typically so swamped with everyday tasks and issues they tend to push their business security to the bottom of their priority list. However, I believe that a company’s information is one of their most valuable assets and should be at the top of every entrepreneur’s agenda.”

Carbon Disclosure Project report discusses energy saving and low carbon benefits of Cloud Computing

David Bicknell

One of the most informed and engaging writers around sustainability and business is Andrew Winston, who writes a blog called Finding the Gold in Green and writes for the Harvard Business Review as well.

His blog discusses  a new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project about the sustainability benefits of Cloud Computing

Here’s the intro to the report:

Across business, executives are looking for ways in which they can operate more sustainably and thereby increase their competitive edge. Information Communications Technology (ICT) is seen as a key area of focus for achieving sustainability goals. This report shows that business use of cloud computing can play an important role in an organisation’s sustainability and IT strategies: improving business process efficiency and flexibility whilst decreasing the emissions of IT operations.

This study used detailed case study evidence from 11 global firms and assessed the financial benefits and potential carbon reductions for a firm opting for a particular cloud computing service. It also demonstrates how projected cloud computing adoption could drive economy-wide business benefits from a financial and carbon reduction perspective in the US.

The results show that by 2020, large U.S. companies that use cloud computing can achieve annual energy savings of $12.3 billion and annual carbon reductions equivalent to 200 million barrels of oil – enough to power 5.7 million cars for one year.

The report also delves into the advantages and potential barriers to cloud computing adoption and gives insights from the multi-national firms that were interviewed.

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.

Cabinet Office’s chief projects troubleshooter – a good choice

David Pitchford, who has been Executive Director of Major Projects within the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group, is to run the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority which has the power to intervene in failing projects.

Last year Pitchford delivered what Lindsay Scott, co-director of Arras People, called an “amazingly frank assessment of the state of major projects within the UK Government”.

Pitchford said failures of government projects were because of:

– Political pressure
– No business case
– No agreed budget
– 80% of projects launched before 1,2 & 3 have been resolved
– Sole solution approach (options not considered)
– Lack of Commercial capability  – (contract / administration)
– No plan
– No timescale
– No defined benefits

The new Major Projects Authority is run as a partnership with the Treasury and approves projects worth more than £5m.  The Guardian reports that the Authority has an enforceable mandate from the prime minister to oversee and direct the management of all large scale central government projects.

It will be able to:

– tell departments if there is a need for additional assurance

– arrange extra support for a project

– take disputes or problems to ministers.

Departments will be required to provide an integrated assurance and approval plan for every project at its inception. The MPA will approve these before the Cabinet Office and Treasury approves projects, and run an assurance process at key stages to assess whether they are on course to deliver on time, within budget and to the required quality.

It will also compile a portfolio of major projects, reporting on them once a year, and work with departments to improve their skills in the management of projects and programmes.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the Authority is being set up to improve government’s poor record on project delivery.

“The MPA will work in collaboration with central government departments to help us get firmer control of our major projects both at an individual and portfolio level,” he said. “It will look at projects from High Speed Two (for London to Scotland rail services) to the Rural Payments Agency’s ICT system.”

Comment:

Pitchford’s increasing influence on major projects within the Cabinet Office is welcome, especially after the departures of some other reformers who include John Suffolk and Andy Tait.

Cabinet Office publication of Phase 2 documents offers insight into Coalition G-Cloud thinking

By David Bicknell

The Cabinet Office has published a series of documents which discuss how the public sector could utilise the Cloud Computing approach to ICT delivery and explore what benefits and challenges this approach would create.

The project, known as Phase 2 of the G-Cloud Programme, features a number of reports which were developed under work strands of the ICT strategy that was published on 27th January 2010. As the Cabinet Office says, they provide a well informed baseline of public sector Cloud thinking from 2009 to early 2010.

While publishing the papers on its website – minus one on information assurance for security reasons – the Cabinet Office says further development of plans for the  adoption of the Cloud Computing approach to ICT and the delivery of cloud based services to the public sector is on-going and will reflect the objectives of the Coalition Government. It adds that  Cloud Computing principles are evolving rapidly and these will be incorporated into this work.