GDS to update ‘cloud first’ policy

The Government Digital Service has reiterated its commitment to the cloud and pledged to refresh its ‘cloud first’ policy and promote it more widely.

GDS is committed to cloud and wants the rest of government to see the light – Photo credit: Flickr, Art Hitklif

The cloud first policy, first published in 2013, says that all public sector buyers of IT products should consider the cloud as their first option.

“This is to put an end to the government running its own data centres, and sometimes running its own software,” GDS said.

The idea is that it allows departments to work more flexibly and think about what technology needs they have and procure products, rather than having to build or buy the entire stack.

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At the same time, the government set up G-Cloud, its procurement platform for cloud services. However, uptake and use of this marketplace has been slow, especially in local government, with critics saying that some departments aren’t using the service and continue to procure services in the old ways.

Now, GDS has stated that it remains committed to cloud first and plans to refresh the policy over the next few months. In a blogpost by its head of technology, James Stewart, it set out the changes it planned to make.

They include plans to improve the way it promotes best practice, saying that the principles were “a big step” but that “worked examples will make them more valuable”.

GDS said it would work with the rest of government to make sure that the changes are “clearly communicated to the right people” and aim to provide more clarity for both civil servants and the market about what “good looks like” when it comes to using the cloud.

“It’s important that we’re clear about what we need from the market so we can have the right interfaces, the right security and simplicity for users.”

GDS will also improve the security guidance within the policy, and ensure that the work ties in with teams in service design, the Digital Marketplace, Common Technology Services and Government-as-a-Platform.

In addition, GDS plans to update and review the range of tools it uses to encourage departments to move to the cloud. It said that the Crown Hosting service had helped a number of departments to reduce their data centre commitments, but that “not every journey to the cloud is the same”.

Stewart said: “Fundamentally, we’re talking about cloud because we believe that the change it represents is a huge opportunity to put more focus on meeting users’ needs, more rapidly, more flexibly and more effectively.”


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