Should the Cloud Go Public?
The evidence is beginning to slowly seep through: the public sector is finally starting to “get” cloud computing.
Almost every day we hear of corporations, local authorities and other public bodies dabbling with software as a service.
Small and medium-sized businesses have been “getting it” for a while but what is causing the public sector to join the cloud revolution?
Is it the simple fact that organizations are simply catching on to the benefits or maybe our age of austerity is forcing public bodies to be more creative in the way they seek to cut their costs.
Whatever the motives, it is crystal clear that the cloud is making real progress within the public sector. In fact the latest figures from the Cloud Industry Forum, have revealed that the take-up of cloud computing within the public sector has risen 11% in the past nine months.
Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum, is far from surprised by the increase.
“It’s a sign of the age of austerity. Every public sector organization is facing budget cuts out there,” he explained, rather convincingly.
He added: “The over-arching pressure is on the public purse. I’m starting to see cloud services appearing on RFQs (request for quotes) and that’s something that wasn’t happening a year ago.”
Having said that, Burton believes that cost savings are not the main reason for cloud adoption, claiming company flexibility is by far the bigger reason.
Last week in the UK Sunderland City Council made headlines when it announced it was moving many of its IT applications to a cloud platform under a deal with computer giant IBM.
IBM will provide the city-wide cloud platform that is expected to reduce the council's operational costs by £1.4million a year. The local authority claims it will recoup the £5.7million investment cost over the next five years.
Council leader Paul Watson said: “The cloud is a cornerstone of our economic masterplan. The new cloud infrastructure will lay the foundations of an even smarter Sunderland, one that ensures the city is internationally recognized as a model for its operations and a prime location for inward investment.”
He also said the public would have quicker access to the council’s services.
The UK Government also seems to be catching on and is due to announce its Cloud Strategy shortly, already nicknamed “G-Cloud”.
Chris Chant, the Government’s designated cloud supremo, has gone on record saying its move towards cloud computing will stop the expensive way the public sector implements IT. He also says system integration costs will be slashed, as will the number of back office staff.Continued on the next page