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Central government: How to keep your feet on-premises, but your head in the public cloud

Level 11

By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist

It’s no secret that public cloud is becoming an increasingly popular option for enterprises to adopt as a means of storing data in a way that is easily accessible. To encourage the public sector in the UK to take the steps required to adopt public cloud, their government introduced the “Cloud First” policy in 2013; the policy states that when making technology decisions, all public sector organizations should consider using the public cloud before other options.

A recent Freedom of Information request that SolarWinds conducted found that, despite this policy, less than two thirds (61%) of central government departments have adopted public cloud in their organization. Of the departments with 25% or less public cloud usage, 65% attributed their lack of adoption to their legacy technology, half blamed security concerns, and 35% claimed that a lack of skills prevented them from using public cloud more.

The research also revealed that over a third (35%) of central government departments with low public cloud adoption are trying to monitor their on-premises technology and their cloud services with different monitoring tools, making it nearly impossible to manage the whole landscape accurately.

Lost in legacy tech

In recent years, the UK government has paid for on-premises solutions and there is little incentive to move away from this technology. Although fit for purpose now, departments will need to embrace the public cloud to ensure that they are able to maintain their services.

Full cloud adoption is unrealistic, but part of the problem with only adopting a hybrid cloud environment is that there can be added complexity. One method of easing the transition would be to strategically plan a smooth integration between cloud and legacy technology. Another would be to use specially designed monitoring tools that can manage across both environments and reduce the complexity.

No penalties means no need

One of the reasons that 39% of departments haven’t yet implemented public cloud over the last five years is that there are no consequences for not complying with the policy.

What needs to change?

One step that should be taken sooner rather than later is to implement incentives for adhering to the policy. Organizations across the public sector of the UK who proactively adopt public cloud usage could receive benefits, such as additional funding or special training, to reward their efforts. As an alternative, those who haven’t shown a demonstrated effort to consider cloud adoption could suffer from a loss of budget or resources.

In the United States, they support their cloud initiatives with a US Federal Government Certification called FedRAMP. This certification provides a common set of controls under which, public cloud providers have been judged to be secure by the government and a Third-Party Assessment Organization (3PAO). This allows agencies and bureaus to leverage the cloud environment with an assurance of availability and security. With a similar initiative in the UK, the public sector may feel more confident about adopting public cloud, and therefore would potentially be able to realize many of the benefits that come from proper cloud adoption.

Find the full article on Open Access Government.

Level 13

Good Article. It's like many things people don't always do it because it's the right thing to do. They often do it because they're forced or because it's the latest thing that they want to try out.


Nice write up

Without being Luddite, imagine using less IT services to live your life or operate a business.  Could it happen?  Could we live satisfactory and fulfilling lives without needing to compete with overseas entities? 

This is a similar article from last week's Fed write-up. It appears that the Fed gvt. is really struggling with adopting the Cloud. That's a similar story as that of the private sector.

While some government agencies are moving to the Cloud, it will take some time for the majority to move.  People still want to see, look, and hear there server rooms buzzing and humming.

About the Author
Paul Parker, a 25-year information technology industry veteran, and expert in Government. He leads SolarWinds’ efforts to help public sector customers manage the security and performance of their systems by using technology. Parker most recently served as vice president of engineering at Infoblox‘s federal division. Before that, he served in C-level or senior management positions at Ward Solutions, Eagle Alliance and Dynamics Research Corp.