Socitm: Collaboration and leadership needed for ‘SuperCloud’ initiatives to take off

Public sector organisations need to proactively work with existing large-scale public sector cloud-based networks to deliver more savings, a report from the association of IT professionals, Socitm, has said.

London SuperCloud is expanding its services beyond the education sector – Photo credit: Flickr, Chris Potter, CC BY 2.0

In its latest briefing note, Socitm looks at the London SuperCloud, which is run by the London Grid for Learning.

The London SuperCloud began life as a network for schools across London, but expanded beyond education and into the wider public sector and now covers more than 3,000 public bodies, including local authorities.

According to the LGfL’s director John Jackson, the network has the scale to provide secure services to the rest of the public sector, and delivers access to the Public Services Network, the further education network Janet, NHS N3 and to national government departments.

The briefing note stated: “As it provides its own dedicated core network, it can control and manage contention rates and access as well as delivering public, hybrid and private cloud.”

Socitm said that, although the London SuperCloud “follows the path led by other service aggregators” by making it easy to access servers, storage and commonly configured apps, it also provides an “innovative vision” of what the public sector can do with its infrastructure to benefit citizens.

The aim is to use the cloud to help aggregate data and offer access to common platforms at a scale that brings with it efficiency savings, as well as encouraging greater cross-sector collaboration.

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For instance, Jackson is quoted in the briefing note as saying that the NHS N3 network, which is up for contract renewal could “reap the economies of scale [and] avoid the costs and risks associated with building another regional network” by using the SuperCloud.

However, he said that using the cloud is about more than just delivering cheap ICT processing power and data storage, saying that it should be used “more fundamentally” to create cross-government capabilities.

Jackson also stressed that a move to networks like SuperCloud involves a culture change, and an alignment in leadership, behaviours, strategy and technology planning. He added that the public sector will not deliver billion-pound savings “unless political will and executive decision makers drive aggregation and the move to cloud”.

Meanwhile, Socitm welcomed the fact that the London SuperCloud’s ethos meets its own core principles that public sector bodies should “simplify, standardise and share” their technologies.

However, it said that in order for the rest of the public sector to welcome the SuperCloud, “the aims and aspirations of the other major groupings in that wider public sector community have to be successfully incorporated”.

But it added that time was of the essence, with a need for better and transformed services now, and urged public sector leaders to be “immediately proactive and make the very best of what we have in hand”.

This means working with existing initiatives like the SuperCloud in the short-term, and built others with “an eye towards their inevitable incorporation into their successor(s)”.

Socitm concluded: “We need to be intelligent enough to make a good blend of several opportunistically managed accidents and wide-scope design. That’s a cross-sectoral leadership challenge.”


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