William Eichler 27 March 2018

Councils lack a formal cloud strategies, says report

Councils lack a formal cloud strategies, says report image

The majority of councils are yet to formalise the way they use cloud computing in their organisations, new research reveals.

A new report from ICT body Socitm has found that while cloud solutions are ‘actively considered’ by council IT departments, the majority of councils are yet to formalise the way they use the technology.

The report, which assesses cloud take-up five years after the Government announced its ‘cloud first’ policy, discovered only 38% of councils had a policy governing the deployment of Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud infrastructure.

It also found only 43% of local authorities had guidance or a strategy for the use of SaaS, and 44% had guidance or a strategy for cloud infrastructure.

This is the result, the report argued, of councils moving away from council-wide edicts around the deployment of IT and instead taking an ‘opportunistic’ approach, rolling out cloud solutions when they are needed.

‘In the past, councils have focused on delivering big IT infrastructure projects, often across the council and normally in partnership with the big IT suppliers,’ Roy Grant, head of ICT at York City Council, explained.

‘In doing this, we have ended up with the equivalent of a slow-moving oil tanker where changing direction takes time and is far more complicated than it needs to be.

‘The way we are approaching our IT is to focus on our users and bring in agile ways of working which can deliver change at a faster pace. That means working at different speeds with different parts of the business.

‘It also means identifying and deploying applications and infrastructure which allows us to meet the priorities of the business as they emerge.

‘Moving away from ‘big IT’ has allowed us to quickly deliver projects which in the past have taken a long time to go nowhere.’

Despite the lack of formal cloud strategies, Soctim’s research did find that more local authorities were using cloud IT today than two years ago.

The report showed that 62% of councils store data in the cloud - up from 52% in 2016.

Around 81% use one or more on-premise data centre(s), while 42% use a third-party data centre. 64% of councils use both on-premise and cloud hosting.

When it comes to the cloud services councils are using, 36% use hyper-scale public cloud (AWS, Azure or Google Cloud Platform), while 27% have private cloud. 6% use another public cloud provider.

Socitm found 85% of councils approached said their IT was run and managed in-house, whereas 13% outsourced this to non-council owned commercial businesses.

Around 2% outsourced IT to a group of councils, a private company owned by another council, or single local authority partner.

The research also revealed that 72% of councils have a policy which supports the use of G-Cloud - a similar number to the 69% found in our 2016 research.

Half of councils which support procurement through G-Cloud have a policy for cloud IT. This compares to 33% in 2016.

‘This research shows that there is still some way to go before we can say that councils are truly ‘cloud first’ in the way they run and deploy IT,’ said Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm, in the report’s conclusion.

‘At the same time, however, across local government cloud is now largely seen as the preferred IT model for the future.

‘It is neither a lack of understanding about how IT can benefit councils, nor concerns about the viability of cloud in their organisations which is slowing the rate of adoption - rather, a combination of legacy IT commitments, existing long-term contracts and the way finance teams budget for IT costs are constraining progress.’

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