Paul McDonald is IS strategist at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. He does not think the cloud is being over-hyped.
"It is similar to the move from weaving on a small scale where every cottage had its own loom and way of doing things, to weaving in industrial factories. The standardisation, scale and industrial strength of the cloud's delivery is revolutionary," he said.
Cloud technology is being used to help deliver the council's Street Works service.
"The Street Works system, which deals with notifications of roads being dug up, was Oracle-based but the IT department does not support the specialist Oracle skill set and there were problems with it failing to start and back-ups. Now it is run on a cloud-based service which does the same on a massive scale," said McDonald.
"It means we are bang up to date on the latest releases which meets our legislative requirements and we don't have to spend £1000 on each upgrade and wait for up to two months for the supplier to come and do it."
Costs have been slashed as the borough is paying the same in software licensing, but the hardware cost has been removed.
"It has relieved the burden on the IT estate as we have no maintenance costs and released three servers back to the IT department," said McDonald.
The borough also uses a cloud-based service to check street cleanliness.
"We have eight or nine people checking the cleanliness of streets and they enter information into their mobile device which goes online via a browser and is provided as a web service. It means data is accessible in real time and overcomes the security problem of the mobile devices having to go through the borough's firewall to access the internal database," said McDonald.
He recommends that other organisations should try the cloud to solve specific problems rather than move in a big bang: "Risk-averse organisations can parcel up the risk and innovate that way."
This article is part of a feature from the Beyond the Cloud conference organised by BT and Computer Weekly. Click on the links below for more coverage from the conference:
Cloud conference hears how to boost business and cut costs
The cloud: The academic's view
This was first published in July 2010