eWEEK Readers Doubt Government Cloud

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You doubt the wisdom of government data in the cloud. Next up, social networking: friend or foe?

Attitudes to the government’s cloud-based IT strategy are extremely mixed, according to our latest poll of eWEEK readers, with roughly equal numbers of people predicting it will be an outright failure and an outright success.

Support for cloud was strong, with just over a quarter of respondents (25.3 percent) saying that cloud computing will help the government to cut costs, amid a freeze in IT spending. This is the bet that the government is making with its ‘G-Cloud‘, which will provide multiple services, interoperability and data sharing via the cloud. It is estimated that the flagship project will save £1.2 billion a year, gradually building to £4 billion by 2020.

However, nearly as many respondents (22.4 percent) said the project would fail, due to the security risks associated with cloud computing. This is a common concern, and one that is particularly cogent when public data is involved. However, a recent survey by public sector supplier CSC found that many government departments are willing to relax security governance in order to gain cloud benefits.

“While the vast majority strongly agreed that the use of a public cloud would substantially increase risk to confidentiality, a majority also agreed that a shared private cloud (or community cloud) among users with similar security cultures would likely be an acceptable risk,” said CSC in December.

Will we even notice?

Nearly a fifth (18 percent) of respondents said they did not expect to see any discernible difference, and that the government’s move to the cloud would not save money but just be ‘business as usual’. While it is generally thought that economies of scale can be achieved through cloud computing, some argue that moving to a subscription model merely offsets costs into the future. Fifteen percent of you thought that the cloud model could even cost the government more in the long run.

Meanwhile, a sizeable minority of readers who suspect the whole thing could be a ploy by the government to get its hands on more of peoples’ data. Fifteen percent said that, once personal data is in public hands, the ease of movement in the cloud will increase the temptation for government departments to play fast and loose with privacy.

Overall, more than half of respondents were resistant to the government’s cloud plans. Any competent statistician would suggest this may be due to our giving you more “negative” options in the poll question, of course, but we feel the result reflects real opinions.

Comments on the poll also added depth – the value of cloud to government will hinge on whether they use in-house clouds or public services, said one reader: “Depends if they go private (good) or public (bad).”

Update: The small lead for cloud computing supporters emerged in the last moments of the poll while this story was being written. Further changes may be happening in the live data, but our graphic shows the situation at 09.30 this morning.

Is social media suitable for office use?

So, after a rather lukewarm reception for the government’s G-Cloud, we thought we’d ask our readers what you think about using social media in the work place. The business benefits of social networkig have been touted far and wide, as a way for businesses to connect with their customers on a personal level, but are you a believer or do you think it’s all a big waste of time?

According to analyst firm Gartner, social networking services are growing so fast they could replace email for 20 percent of business users by 2014. The researcher noted that email giants Microsoft and IBM are connecting with their email apps with social networks to make contacts, calendars and tasks shareable.

There seems to be no question about the way the industry is moving, but we want you  to, er… tell us how you feel.

Are social networks an essential new business paradigm or an insane security risk – as Sophos’ security guru Graham Cluley recently warned. Perhaps you just see them as another irksome thing to add to your list of chores, and don’t believe they bring any real benefit at all. Or perhaps you support the social revolution, because it gives you a chance to goof off from all that other, far more tedious stuff you have to do.

As usual, you can vote using the poll on the left hand side of the site, and join the debate by adding your comments if you want to.

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