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Vodafone is targeting cloud services at the UK Government, launching a new Flexible Computing offering designed to offer the security and compliance required for government operations under a utility cloud model for pricing and flexibility.

Do not expect the Cloud offering to be as agile, however, as enterprise environments.

With the government cloud, manual processes, which Vodafone says it is covering by adding its own manual labour to the Cloud, are required to ensure constraints of the government “accreditation regime”.

Vodafone head of hosting product management Tom Stockwell told FOCUS Vodafone has built all the levels of agility into its new public sector cloud offering as it has for enterprise customers but that the Cloud for government “starts where the regime ends”, referring to government controls on projects and data.

“What we have built at an infrastructure level is a true cloud platform. It can fire virtual machines instantly, it is automated, orchestrated, it is metered and sold on a per-virtual-machine (vm) per-hour basis. It lines up with the standard ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) definition of a cloud platform,” Stockwell said.

“But working with government we have to put people in place that underlie the platform and physical and security controls to prevent data leakage between environments – which is the thing governments get most concerned about.”

As part of the G-Cloud initiative set up by the UK Government, confidentiality ratings for content have been set as IL ratings, and services can be accredited to these IL ratings for restricted data requirements with 0 being low impact security and 3 being high.

Vodafone is offering secure multi-tenant infrastructure with end-to-end connectivity over its PSN to achieve IL3.

People are used as the mediation layer between internal government self-services and the orchestration platform to handle code connections and anything that could be at risk during the provisioning of cloud environments.

“It is really about the parts of the organization that require governance. We are playing a balancing act between offering the benefits of the Cloud and protecting the things that are important to government such s national security,” Stockwell said.

The Flexible Computing offering itself allows government users to move between colocation environments and the Cloud.

Vodafone already provides an extensive array of services to UK government organisations using its accredited Tier III network.

It carries out a number of hosting roles for the central government with a data center in Uxbridge being built mostly for government customer use.

The Flexible Computing For Government offering is offered on a pay-as-you go model, billed at hourly rates. It will be available form next month.