Cloud World Forum: What does the government look like in the cloud?
London’s Camden Council faces three main barriers to future cloud adoption, according to its head of business intelligence Sudip Trivedi.
But despite the obstacles, the North London council is still managing to mould itself into a role model for other local councils on how cloud should be implemented into their organisations.
The first barrier is risk appetite, said Trivedi during a discussion at Cloud World Forum. According to him, organisations have to realise that there will be risk in moving to the cloud and they should be prepared for that.
“One morning we get a phone call from one of our suppliers that made the news, and we’re all wondering what’s happened? We read the news and one of the biggest system integrators in local government in the UK had gone bust which means that all their key systems and all their provisions were up in the air,” he explained.
“It was a major problem, it was actually our finance system. You can imagine the conversations that were going on then. It was a cloud based provision, which was supported through the supplier. We had never anticipated anything like this, and as a local council, how do you resolve that issue? How do we get access to the information that we know belongs to us. This is the risk appetite.”
The second barrier, according to Trivedi, is security. As a local council which keeps public data, Camden has to adhere to the rules of the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), and it has to work with cloud providers to make sure this is carried out to keep user information safe and secure from the plethora of security risks today.
“As councils, we have set fines for us if we don’t adhere to ICO security principles, and rightly so,” he said. “We have all come across stories where personal information has been leaked or it has been compromised.
“Obviously, from a personal point of view I’ve read stories about something like the Sony hacking scandal – that’s a cloud based provision, so in terms of steps that we can take for the sector, we must make it easier so that the ICO cloud guidance is there and it also supports us to go cloud-based.”
The final barrier that local councils come up against in the transition to cloud is culture.
“Culturally, we don’t see cloud as a natural space yet,” explained Trivedi. He said that employees can find it disconcerting not being able to physically track down assets, as they are stored somewhere else.
“We like to see our assets in action. It’s very tricky now especially with people like us who have had a data centre for 10 years which we have been running and expanding on…how do we look at new technology now and how do we continue expanding?
“Camden managed to get the top of the list on Compare The Cloud’s UK June influence table, beating IBM,” said Trivedi.
Camden is currently the seventh largest economy in the UK, and the council supports more than 220,000 residents and 25,000 businesses.
“The reason we have been able to do that is with our infrastructure and equipment in cloud, we’ve trialled things which enable us to deliver VMs a lot quicker,” explained Trivedi. “This is an example of how things can get there. We’re clearly not there yet but we’re in the right direction.”