A survey of the 100 biggest councils in the UK has shown that 44% do not have a strategy for the use of the cloud – despite 73% saying they use it for some form of data storage.
Almost half of councils have question marks over their cloud computing approach – Photo credit: Flickr, Dennis Hill
The survey, carried out by Eduserv, asked the top 100 councils – as defined by revenue – about their use of the cloud.
In the foreword to the report, Jos Creese, principal analyst on Eduserv’s Local Government Executive Briefing Programme said that local government had been slow to realise the benefit of cloud computing to release them from “legacy IT system handcuffs”.
Within the 44% of councils that had no cloud adoption policy, the survey found that just 15% were considering one.
It also identified a lack of knowledge about where data is stored and poor understanding of the risks associated with use of the cloud.
This echoes a recent iGov survey that found that most councils using cloud applications either couldn’t or were unaware of whether they could monitor sensitive information accessed through them.
The Eduserv survey also found that 27% of councils said they didn’t know or couldn’t give a figure on where their data was held.
Moreover, although most councils – 73% – said they used the cloud, Eduserv pointed to figures from Dropbox that said nearly every UK council has used its services.
“What this points to is a significant level of shadow cloud use, or ‘cloud creep’, which is unmanaged,” the report said.
It added those organisations need to acknowledge that some form of cloud adoption is inevitable and urged them to create an effective IT policy to manage it.
The survey also looked at the number of on-site data centres and third party data centres councils used, with just 10% saying they had no on-site data centres. Some 27% said they had one, and 55% said they had two on-site. Meanwhile, 65% said they used a third-party data centre.
The report said that this indicated there were still concerns about the risks of moving data – particularly sensitive information – into the cloud.
However, Creese said that councils would do better to adopt a clear cloud policy, rather than avoid using the cloud to mitigate risk.
“As cloud use becomes more ubiquitous, local authorities cannot afford not to have plans to ensure that it is used safely and with controls in place to ensure data is managed in a way which reduces risk,” he said.
“Resistance to cloud adoption (and for that matter use of [the government cloud sales platform] G-Cloud) is currently holding back councils from achieving optimum digital service performance.”
He added that if councils want to generate the service and financial benefits from digital transformation, they “must be prepared to use every technology tool in their armoury”.