UK Public Sector And The Cloud: State Of Play

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Today, the public sector is dependent on the cloud. Local and central government, police forces and more now harness networks of remote servers to provide vital services, communicate with each other, manage data and keep IT costs within budget. Whether it’s a council taking payments from residents or a police force sharing crime data with another, the UK public sector is fully cloud conversant. In this blog, we take a look at how the public sector has embraced cloud computing.

‘Cloud-first strategy’

Back in 2013 the government signalled its intention to utilise the cloud with the launch of its G-Cloud supplier marketplace - now called Digital Marketplace. This allows public sector organisations to buy IT products and services from trusted cloud suppliers. Describing its public sector IT policy as ‘Cloud First’, the government said public sector use of the cloud would boost business and deliver savings and efficiencies.

Cloud adoption

In 2010, 38 per cent of public sector organisations said they were using cloud-based services. Today, that figure is 78 per cent, according to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF). Across both the public and private sectors, the overall cloud adoption rate in the UK stands at 84 per cent, with almost four in five cloud users having formally adopted two or more services.

“Cloud computing has a great deal to offer the UK’s increasingly pressurised public sector,” the CIF said. “While adoption rates have increased year-on-year, they have not quite kept pace with their private sector counterparts. Progress is, however, progress and a significant and growing proportion of the public sector is using cloud, and cloud services to help transform the way that their organisations operate, communicate and collaborate.”

Benefits

Today’s public sector organisations are facing real challenges. They are tasked with delivering essential services yet are also under pressure to cut costs and meet new budget targets. Using the cloud helps organisations and departments cut IT costs, because they no longer need to use their own servers. But saving money is not the only benefit:

  • Scalable and agile - the cloud allows the public sector to deploy flexible IT solutions based on their changing needs

  • Quicker procurement - through the Digital Marketplace it is quicker than ever before for organisations to find and buy IT products and services

  • Managed security - by outsourcing IT to a cloud provider, public sector organisations don’t have to worry about managing security

Challenges

Nothing is without its problems and challenges. One of the main concerns around cloud use is safety. In the public sector this is a particularly important concern, given departments handle large swathes of private data every single day. Quite rightly, organisations will be concerned about putting personal and sensitive information into the cloud. However, the government has moved to reassure the sector that the public cloud is quite safe to use.

“Cloud providers have a significant budget to maintain, patch and secure their cloud infrastructure,” government guidance published earlier this year reads. “This means public cloud services can mitigate many common risks that often pose challenges for government organisations.”

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