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The UK Government is set to introduce a ‘cloud first’ policy across all departments, forcing them to take on public cloud services wherever possible.
Speaking at a Q&A session co-hosted by Salesforce and attended by Cloud Pro, Denise McDonagh, Home Office IT director and head of the government’s G-Cloud initiative, said: “One of the things we are looking at is how to quicken the pace [of cloud uptake] and so ... there is a paper on public cloud first policy, which is with (Minister for the Cabinet Office) Francis Maude and will go to one of the next Cabinet committees to endorse.”
The paper, when implemented, will mandate central government departments to attempt to find a public cloud solution to their IT need. Failing that, they will have to seek a private cloud resolution or, as a last resort, a traditional IT implementation.
The policy will not be enforced through sanctions, McDonagh said, but during the capital expenditure control and scrutiny process.
“Any new IT spend in government over a certain amount has to go through a control process [that will now] always say ‘you will not be allowed to spend money unless you have thought about cloud, open standards, disaggregation etc. So that is where we will control how money in terms of IT is spent and that will force people to look at [their] in IT strategy,” she said.
Industry and analyst reaction to McDonagh’s revelation has been largely supportive.
Paul Bolt, director of SMB at Rackspace, told Cloud Pro: “The thought process and rationale behind this approach is clear. Government has identified that cloud has the ability to assist in meeting cost saving targets, but can also deliver increased productivity.
“Ultimately, if the government acts fast and with a sound strategy, it has the opportunity to deliver real value back to its citizens through cloud adoption.”
Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum, said it was good to see the Government moving towards a mandated system, following the Select Committee review of IT use in Government in 2011.
“This cloud-first philosophy will also force people to confront the real world decisions that need to be made, and learned, in regard to how to manage cloud procurement,” he added.
However, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, research director of content and collaboration at 451 Research was more cautious.
“Cloud is important, but I think that realistically hybrid on premises/cloud combinations is the future for many mission critical processes and applications. Cloud first is fine, but people need to understand the pros and cons here and make smart decisions based on their requirements, not a mandate.
“My concern would be that buyers blindly opt for cloud in situations where on premise would in fact be the correct choice, and pay a high price as a result,” he said.