90 percent of local authorities use cloud services

Cloud computing is in use in 90 percent of local authorities, but the majority do so via existing providers instead of the G-Cloud framework.

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Cloud computing is in use or being piloted in 90 percent of local authorities, according to a survey by public sector IT professionals’ association Socitm.

Just four percent of local public service providers said they are ‘highly invested users’ of cloud services. 66 percent have some applications in the cloud and are investigating others, while 21 percent said they are investigating or doing a pilot.

Yesterday Cardiff City Council announced plans to move its core IT systems to the cloud over the next three years, saying it would link up systems and enable collaboration between agencies, helping to improve services and save money.

The main advantage of cloud cited by respondents was greater scalability and business continuity capabilities, along with greater computing flexibility and capacity, and anticipated cost savings.

Perceived risks included worries about the security of, and accountability for, data and information held in cloud-based systems. 70 percent said data protection regulations had held back take-up.

Almost half said there were certain applications or services they would never move to cloud, such as personal data, mission-critical or emergency services and systems highly integrated with other complex systems not in the cloud.

Procurement was not a significant inhibitor, with 60 percent of respondents saying there is “no inhibition from the current procurement environment”. However the majority already using cloud services did so through existing suppliers rather than through G-Cloud or pay-as-you-go agreements.

At a recent Socitm round table on G-Cloud, members said that while ICT managers are comfortable with the framework, legal and procurement teams were more cautious.

It found  “disbelief persisting in some quarters that the process is legal”, despite G-Cloud being used by hundreds of public sector bodies since it was launched three years ago.

One UK council, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, has already taken the leap to a fully cloud infrastructure.

CIO Rocco Labellarte gave some advice to local authorities last May.

“An ageing infrastructure really helps to make the case financially. In-house expertise is worth its weight in gold and is less expensive... you need to have skills in-house to challenge those providing the services and do integration. And the biggest changes are invariably cultural and behavioural,” he told ComputerworldUK.

Socitm said its figures were based on results from 103 organisations out of more than 400 local authorities and warned the figures ‘may reflect some self-selection’.

Socitm’s head of research Andy Hopkirk said: “Service providers have work to do in convincing many Socitm members that their personal and corporate business risks are not increased by using cloud services to an extent that outweighs the benefits.”