Government CTO: ‘There’s room for all the cloud industry players to have a meaningful role’

Recently appointed tech chief David Knott tells PublicTechnology that government’s cloud adoption so far compares favourably to other sectors, with plenty more to come

Picture credit: Gianni Crestani/Pixabay    Image has been cropped

Government’s recently appointed chief technology officer has claimed that there is opportunity for all the major cloud providers to play a role in supporting government’s future infrastructure.

David Knott took on the post as government’s tech leader about six weeks ago, in a role sitting at the head of a 40-person team in the Central Digital and Data Office. His responsibilities include helping to deliver a cross-government approach to mitigating legacy risk, supporting secure-by-design services, and identifying opportunities for the use of emerging technologies.

Speaking exclusively to PublicTechnology, Knott said that he has long been “a big advocate of the public cloud”.

He added that the progress of cloud migration in government compares favourably with other sectors characterised by large, complex organisation – such as financial services, where the new Whitehall tech chief has spent much of his career. Large departments have now typically moved 15% or more of their systems to a cloud environment, according to Knott

“One of the things I have seen and have been impressed with in government is actually the pace of cloud adoption,” he said. “But the general feeling is we could still go faster.”

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The central government cloud landscape currently appears to be dominated by Amazon Web Services, which has won hundreds of millions of pounds of deals with major departments in recent years. With further migration set to play a significant role in helping tackle legacy issues, PublicTechnology asked Knott whether greater diversity of suppliers could benefit government.

“My personal perspective – and I’m still figuring this out… but, in the finance sector, having a thoughtful multi-cloud strategy was pretty much standard across the industry,” he said. “Partly for reasons of competition, but also reasons of resilience as well.”

Knott added that he and his team would give consideration to the question of “what’s the right multi-cloud strategy for government”. 

This will include examination through “two lenses” – addressing both “what’s the right diversity of supply and deployment for a department… [and] what’s the right ecosystem across government”.

With plenty of infrastructure yet to make the move to cloud, the government CTO said that there should be plenty of opportunity for a variety of players to work with departments.

“There’s plenty for everybody in the stuff that’s not claimed yet,” he said. “And I think there’s room for all the all the industry players to make have come to some kind of meaningful role.”

Keep an eye on PublicTechnology in the coming days for our full interview with the new government CTO, including lots more insights on the scale of departments’ legacy challenges, the opportunities for artificial intelligence, and why transformation needs to be built on the right infrastructure.

Sam Trendall

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