Why the government's cloud-first policy review should be applauded

In this guest post, HPE UK MD Marc Waters sets out why the government’s decision to place its cloud-first policy under review makes sense, as the hybrid IT consumption model continues to take hold in the enterprise.

It was good to read the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and Government Digital Service (GDS) are reviewing the public cloud-first policy that has guided public sector technology procurement since its introduction in 2013.

The policy has been a success in advancing cloud adoption, and the provision of digital public services. However, it is now widely accepted that a ‘one size fits all’ approach, is not only too simplistic, it is also too restrictive and expensive.

It is also worth noting the move mirrors a decision by the US government at the start of this year to move its Federal Cloud Computing strategy from ‘Cloud First’ to ‘Cloud Smart’.

Ultimately it is about using the right tools for the right workload and having the ability to flex your technology mix. For the public sector, achieving the right cloud mix will help deliver better and more efficient citizen services.

The Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) belief that the future of enterprise IT is hybrid is now widely accepted. Organisations are looking to blend their use of public cloud, with the security, control and cost benefit of a private cloud, and the same holds true for the public sector.

Solving data challenges in the cloud-first era

Another factor to consider as UK government looks toward the future is the importance, impact and incredible growth of data. Future planning requires smart thinking of how data is captured, stored and analysed.

As we all become increasingly mobile and connected, valuable data is being created at the edge. The edge is outside the datacentre and is where digital interaction happens.

Authorities need to be able to manage ‘hot’ data at the edge and use it to make instant, automated decisions, such as improving congestion through smart motorways or using facial-recognition to identify high-risk individuals.

This is in addition to managing ‘cold’ data which is used to analyse patterns and predict future trends, pertaining – for example – to the provision of healthcare and social housing services.

Different data sets benefit from different, connected, data solutions. In a hybrid cloud environment, for example, transaction processing can be managed in the public cloud with data stored privately ensuring control and avoiding the charges to upload data into a public cloud.

Retaining government data in a private cloud removes the lock-in of the charges levied by public cloud providers to take back control of government data. Which just gives more flexibility and options.

Combining a public and private cloud strategy enables customers to demand cloud value for money, not just now, but ongoing. So as a technologist and a taxpayer I see the review by CCS as a hugely positive step forward for the UK government.

Speaking at the Times CEO Summit in London recently Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, who helped to establish the Government Digital Service during the coalition government, noted the digitisation of the State was a ‘job half done’. If that’s the case, at HPE we stand ready to work with the public sector to get the other half done.

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