Cloud-first agenda failing to take hold in councils, survey says

An analysis has shown that the adoption of cloud computing varies widely across councils, with barriers including out-of-date procurement policies and reliance on in-house IT infrastructure.

Study suggests councils aren’t clicking with the cloud – Photo credit: Fotolia

The analysis, carried out by not-for-profit IT services provider Eduserv, looked at 418 councils in England, Scotland and Wales. It aimed to assess whether the government’s cloud-first agenda, launched in 2013, had made an impact.

It found that 44% of councils are not using the cloud, while the majority of those that do use the cloud only use it for storing small amounts of data.

In addition, the survey showed that 61% of councils do not have, or didn’t know if they had, a cloud IT policy. This figure is greater for the 100 smallest by spending councils, where 70% did not have a cloud IT policy, while 45% of the 100 largest didn’t have one.

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Another barrier to using the cloud could be legacy in-house IT systems. The survey found that 47% of councils run two or more data centres, and 60% of those do not have a cloud IT strategy.

The survey, which builds on a smaller survey of just the top 100 councils, also asked councils if they had strategies that allowed them to use the government’s cloud computing procurement framework, G-Cloud.

It found that 69% did have a procurement policy that supported G-Cloud, a proportion that was again higher in the top 100 councils (79%) than in the 100 smallest (63%).

However, just 33% said that they had both a procurement policy that supported the use of G-Cloud, and a cloud IT strategy.

Some 42% of councils said they had procured cloud services through G-Cloud, with a sales total of £56.5m. But the top 50 councils by spending accounted for 90% (£50.5m) of the sales, while the remaining 127 councils that had used G-Cloud accounted for just £6m.

Moreover, more than half of the sales – 57% or £32.2m – were from just eight councils, indicating that use of G-Cloud is very varied among the councils.

“The big picture behind this research is that only a minority of councils appear to have a deep appreciation of how IT must change to support service redesign and new technologies in the future,” said report author Jos Creese, who is principal analyst for Eduserv’s Local Government Executive Briefing Programme.

“This is acutely illustrated by the fact six in ten councils have yet to adopt a cloud policy or strategy, and many systems are still run in-house on local data centres.”

Creese added that, although the IT departments surveyed are not officially using the cloud, other departments were likely to be using it, in what he described as “shadow IT activity”.

“Given this, and the data risks to be managed with cloud, it is therefore critical that councils have some sort of policy guidance around how and when it could or should be considered. It is surprising and somewhat alarming that this is not the case.”    


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