Public sector IT left in the dark over government cloud strategy

News Rene Millman May 16, 2012

Report finds that public sector IT chiefs need better communication and clarity over G-Cloud strategy.

Widespread uncertainty and doubt is threatening progress of the G-Cloud, the government’s cloud computing strategy, according to a new report.

Research commissioned by VMware found that only one in five senior public sector IT staff believes the government has done a good job of communicating its cloud computing plans, while 63 per cent are unconvinced that the government will hit its target of 50 per cent of new IT spending via the cloud.

The government’s cloud computing strategy is intended to transform public sector IT and drive efficiencies, but the report, based on interviews with 189 public sector IT leaders, found just 19 per cent felt the government had done a good job of communicating its G-Cloud plans to the public sector and 17 per cent said they did not fully understand the plans because they had not yet taken the time to examine them.

The research come almost six months after the government unveiled its G-Cloud Strategy with the aim of saving £200 million per year on IT through to 2015, as well as transforming the way IT services are procured and delivered.

The main reasons why respondents thought the government would miss targets were: the need to maintain legacy services (18 per cent); tie-in to existing contracts (17 per cent); lack of clarity around government cloud computing plans (15 per cent); security fears (12 per cent); lack of willingness for the public sector to change (ten per cent); lack of understanding of cloud technologies (ten per cent); and initial cost outlay (ten per cent).

Moreover, 59 per cent of respondents were undecided or did not know if they would use G-Cloud to procure IT services, compared to 31 per cent who said they probably or definitely would.

Roger Bearpark, assistant head of IT at the London Borough of Hillingdon, said that G-Cloud and Cloudstore must be the catalyst for forward thinking ICT professionals within the public sector to re-evaluate how they procure, deliver and change services. 

“It is not a time to be shy. This is an agile and fluid proposition that demands wholehearted support. It must also become unacceptable to offer up the usual refrains harking on about cost of transition, complexities, legacy systems and the protestations of being ‘unique’,” he said.

Bearpark added that take up of G-Cloud will be a matter of time and circumstance for many, but it is never too soon to develop an understanding of the potential. “Just because we do things well does not mean we cannot do them better.”

Andy Tait, head of public sector strategy at VMware said that was still a big job ahead in convincing senior IT decision makers in the wider public sector to move towards the cloud.

“There is a huge incentive for the government if they can overcome these issues; we believe the government’s targets are a drop in the ocean compared to the potential savings that can be achieved through cloud computing,” he said. “With budgets under so much pressure and front-line services being affected, we find it concerning that many in the public sector actually find the government’s targets to be too high.”