CloudCloud ManagementGreen-ITInnovationMobilityProjectsRegulationWorkspace

FCO Plans For A Greener, More Mobile Infrastructure

Eric is a veteran British tech journalist, currently editing ChannelBiz for NetMediaEurope. With expertise in security, the channel, and Britain’s startup culture, through his TechBritannia initiative

Foreign Office CIO David Meyer has published his ICT-cutting plan to reduce carbon and move with the times

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is embarking on a four-year ICT strategy to make it “better, greener and cheaper”. The aim is to cut costs by 30 to 40 percent compared to last year while making information available to staff wherever and whenever they need it.

The FCO ICT Strategy: 2011–2015 document specifies a heavily mobile device-oriented architecture, with an eye to security, that will allow staff to access information however they choose. Towards the end of the four years, this will allow officers to use their own choice of devices.

Focus On Information Not IT

The strategy is being supervised by the Foreign Office’s CIO David Meyer (pictured) who took over the role last December. He also sees video conferencing as offering substantial benefits.

“Staff in UK and in more than two hundred FCO offices around the world will be linked by better telephony, video conferencing and secure computer systems than now,” he said. “But, by making these services less complicated and more integrated, they’ll be cheaper, they’ll reduce our carbon footprint significantly, and they’ll be more accessible to staff with disabilities. What I’m seeking is for all our staff to be able to focus on the information, not the IT.”

Meyer wants the FCO to be less reliant on email which will encourage ministers and staff to use less paper. This will see the introduction of instant messaging and presence applications and greater use of eTeams, the department’s customised Sharepoint platform. This will be accompanied by the development of collaborative technologies for the Firecrest platform, the FCO’s secure global IT desktop infrastructure.

The saving of paper is just a small part of Meyer’s plan for reducing the ICT carbon footprint by at least 25 percent. Improving the management of FCO data centres and ensuring suppliers support sustainability targets will be a key feature of the “greening” process.

“Our IT will be greener,” Meyer said. “The hardware staff use will be energy efficient.”

Driving For A Green Infrastructure

Where appropriate, the ICT requirements of staff will be reduced with each user having only one FCO-owned device. Responsibility for these devices will lie with the individual officer and will no longer be tied to directorates or posts. This, he believes, will promote flexibility and accountability.

Meyer also plans to reduce the department’s ICT infrastructure by outsourcing and, where that is not possible, new technologies will be introduced to limit and reduce the carbon footprint. Although cloud technologies are not mentioned in the document, the linking of green technology and outsourcing implies that it could be a consideration.

Apart from sustainability benefits, the cost of running the IT systems will be reduced by at least 33 percent by 2015, Meyer predicts.

He concludes, “This strategy is focused on delivering as much benefit as possible from our existing ICT estate, reducing our carbon footprint and driving down the cost of services. This will enable FCO front line staff to do their jobs more efficiently and allow us to invest more in the FCO’s core business.”