It could take UK Government departments five to ten years to realize the full potential of the Cloud, according to VMware Head of Public Sector Strategy and former Deputy G-Cloud Director Andy Tait.
This could mean the Government misses its target of having 50% of government IT dedicated to cloud services by 2015.
This week the UK Government pushed back the release of its second version of the G-Cloud (2.0), which will see more suppliers added to the list of cloud suppliers that can service the public sector - part of its G-cloud strategy.
The G-Cloud store, a repository of these services, should encourage the adoption of cloud in government, according to Tait, showcasing solutions designed specifically for the public sector environment.
“To date there haven’t been that many suitably credited dedicated public sector cloud services available,” Tait said. “Take Salesforce.com, which requires data to be stored in the US.”
The Government is hoping to encourage the use of shared services across departments to realize cost savings on IT. But despite austerity measures taking place in the UK, change it likely to move at a slower pace than expected.
According to VMware’s survey results, 59% of 180 senior public sector IT staff are still undecided about a shift to the Cloud.
Local authorities are likely to take advantage of the Cloud first.
“They have already undertaken a number of consolidation and virtualization programs, and are already prepared for cloud services,” Tait said.
Central government, however, still has to deal with long-term service agreements and more traditional IT environments.
“Many central government departments are signed to five- to ten-year outsourcing deals that don’t offer the option of bringing in innovation through the lifecycle of the contract,” Tait said.
“There are 2,000 public sector bodies in the UK, and you would be hard pushed to find any that have not started the journey to virtualization in their data center. But when it comes to local authorities, 90% are virtualized.”
VMware has a lot to gain from the UK Government’s move to the Cloud. While you won’t see its branding, much of its technology is behind the cloud services on offer.
“The UK public sector is very important for us. We have seen a ramp up of demand for virtualization products over the data center and at the desktop level in government that is very significant,” Tait said.
VMware’s research showed that a lack of communication is holding many departments back from considering the Cloud, with only 17% of recipients saying they fully understood the government’s plans, and 10% said there was a lack of willingness for the public sector to change from current practices.
Security and the need to maintain legacy services were also highlighted as key concerns.
Liverpool Women’s and Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trusts CIO Dr Zafar Chaudry said public sector bodies needed to be brave when thinking of cloud services.
“While taking a cloud approach clearly represents a fundamental shift in the way IT services are provisioned, it’s a proven model and once we firmly believe in,” Chaudry said.
“We’re achieving savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds a year with our own cloud model, but in a larger organization you’re looking at having potential savings of millions per year.
“There are cultural challenges to be overcome, but we’re under major pressure to cut costs and cloud computing is the single best way of doing so.”