Infrastructure > Cloud

Collaboration is key to accelerating local government cloud adoption

Published 22 March 2018

Andy Powell, chief technology officer at not-for-profit technology company Eduserv, says many councils now accept that cloud represents the future for local government IT, but the pace of adoption remains slower than it could or should be


Five years on from the government’s proclamation that the future of all public sector IT should be “Cloud First”, you could be forgiven for thinking that councils have yet to embrace that principle when it comes to the way they deploy IT.

Certainly, that is the first impression you get when you look at the research that Eduserv published this week which finds that only four in ten local authorities have a strategy for cloud and that the majority – 80% - remain wedded to on-premise IT.

The reality is the true picture of cloud adoption in local government is more nuanced than these two figures suggest.

As things stand, some two thirds of councils are deploying cloud in some way to support the business and half of those authorities now use hyper-scale public cloud. So today the de facto model for local government IT is hybrid: cloud is being deployed alongside ‘traditional’ on-premise infrastructure.

Although it is clear from our research that many councils now accept that cloud represents the future for local government IT, the pace of adoption remains slower than it could or should be.

One major barrier to change comes from legacy systems and infrastructure.

For councils who have invested in on–premise datacentres or who are tied in to existing contracts, the business case for moving to cloud in the near term is hard to make work.

Even outside of these commercial considerations, IT leaders also told us that getting existing IT infrastructure, which might have been starved of investment in the past, to a place where it was resilient and secure was their first priority before they could consider cloud.

A second challenge arises from the IT teams themselves. The speed at which councils transform the way IT supports their organisation will always be constrained by the number of people to do the job and the skills that they have.

Many council IT teams say they are already stretched enough between “keeping the lights on” and the more forward-thinking work they need to do. Moreover, a shift to cloud IT requires a transformation of the skills and knowledge in the IT team.

A final roadblock comes from the prevailing processes and culture in councils.

From a financial perspective, cloud investment typically comes from revenue budgets which are already under extreme pressure, making the commercial case for a move away from on-premise hard to win. Equally, where IT teams are looking to move to agile working to deliver change more quickly, they come up against rigid internal controls which cannot cope.

The good news is that none of these challenges is unique to any organisation in local government. What’s more, as our research shows, there are already good examples of how these barriers to cloud adoption can be overcome from a number councils across the country.

So although every council will be in a unique position when it comes to business priorities and existing IT, rather than find solutions in isolation, it is only right for council IT leaders to collaborate in their problem-solving to accelerate the move to more effective IT platforms and methods which can support their organisations.

Andy Powell is chief technology officer at Eduserv the not-for-profit technology partner for public and third sector organisations

Copies of the new research “Local Government Cloud Adoption 2018” can be downloaded from this link .


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