Quarter Of Government Departments Shun The Cloud

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Despite UK government commitments to the G-Cloud, 6 out of 25 departments have no cloud prospects

Nearly a quarter of government departments have no plans whatsoever to adopt cloud computing, despite previous commitments to push ahead with the technology and create a unified ‘G-Cloud’.

According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Lewis Communications, six out of 25 ministerial departments – including the Treasury – said that no plans had been put in place to implement a cloud strategy.

Although several departments said they would adhere to the government’s recently published ICT strategy and guidelines – which specified that the government would “push ahead with the shift towards cloud computing” and offer a “standardised cloud platform” – it was only the Department of Work and Pensions that mentioned the government cloud in its responses, according to Lewis.

Lack of understanding

While some departments said they were willing to consider moving services to the cloud, others showed a worrying lack of understanding of what cloud computing is. In the case of the Department for Education, for example, they said that they expected to “adopt some attributes of technology that may be described as those of cloud computing in the next five years”.

According to Bindi Bhullar, director of global IT services provider HCL Technologies, this confusion around the term ‘cloud’ – and ambiguity about its benefits – are holding government departments back from reaping the benefits of cloud computing.

“Regardless of whether the government opts for a G-Cloud or some other approach, there has to be clarity around the real benefits such as centralisation and economies of scale that are currently being lost in this confused environment,” said Bullah “This information highlights that the UK government is missing a real opportunity to be a world leader in public sector IT.”

The news comes two weeks after HP’s Nick Wilson, who has been heavily involved in government IT planning, let slip to IT Pro that the Coalition had “canned” the cloud initiative in favour of focusing more heavily on data centre consolidation.

The gaffe has prompted cloud providers, such as Cirrus Stratus, to urge the government to clearly set out its cloud strategy, in order to reassure the public that it is still committed to the policy.

Moving towards the cloud

“It would be very disappointing if the government is backing away from cloud computing and taking a short-term view of the investment necessary to save vast amounts of money in the long term,” said Costas Galonis, managing director of Cirrus Stratus. “The G-Cloud is a step in the right direction and the British public should know that if this statement by HP is accurate it will cost the British taxpayer dearly.”

Bhullah echoed this sentiment, suggesting that the UK government is relying too heavily on “cosy old-boy networks” of ICT providers, creating complacency and stunting innovation. He said that the government needs to be revisiting and refreshing its procurement contracts, and introducing ‘fresh blood’ to the ecosystem.

“The vendors that the government partners with today agree that cloud is the future but they all have their own perspective on it,” he said. “Ultimately the government will need to rely on its technology partners, so they need to do a better job of  working together.”

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