Fujitsu lock-in makes DECC only Whitehall department incapable of cloud

The Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) cannot adopt cloud computing due to lock-in with system integrator Fujitsu

The Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) is the only Whitehall department unable to adopt cloud computing on a strategic level, because of a lock-in with system integrator Fujitsu.

DECC is the only government department unable to adopt cloud computing as part of its overall ICT strategy, according to a series of freedom of information requests sent to 25 departments.

Nearly all of DECC’s IT services are outsourced to Fujitsu until 31 March 2014. 

“There are significant cost implications in moving to cloud services in advance of this contract expiring,” said a spokeswoman from the DECC.

However, the FOI requests, asking whether departments are using cloud computing at a strategic level, did not include details of the extent to which Whitehall departments are using cloud services. Many departments have been criticised for their slow take-up of IT services supplied through the government's G-Cloud.

On the last count, just over £7m of central government’s multi-billion-pound IT spending had gone through the G-Cloud since it was launched last year. Government has set a target of 50% of all new IT spend to go through the G-Cloud programme by 2015. 

The G-Cloud is hoped to dramatically cut IT costs up to 90% by creating a transparent pay-as-you-go model.

Joe Dignan, analyst at Ovum, said it was not surprising most departments claimed to be using the cloud. He added that it was also likely that DECC was already using the cloud in some capacity but may not be aware of it.

“Much more interesting would be to see what they are using the cloud for and to what scale. It’s easy to tick a box saying they are, so it’s not really about using the cloud but the scale to which it’s being used.

“There is still a huge amount of pushback against the cloud. Some departments just don’t want to go down that route.”

Dignan said the Cabinet Office was taking a more forceful approach in getting departments on board in order to meet its 2015 deadline. “The number of collapsed frameworks recently shows the Cabinet Office is trying to push departments to the G-Cloud,” he said.

Denise McDonagh, head of the G-Cloud programme, recently said the Cabinet Office is due to hand Whitehall a "public cloud first" policy, mandating departments to consider public cloud services the main channel of their IT spending.

McDonagh also said there is much G-Cloud spending in the pipeline. “In the Home Office we’ve done £6m of work through the G-Cloud this year,” she said. 

DECC said that, once its contracts expire, it intends to introduce cloud services. 

“This approach has been agreed with the Cabinet Office and helps their ambition to put 50% of all new spend through cloud computing by 2015,” added the spokeswoman.

Nigel Shaw, client managing director for central government at Fujitsu UK, said: "DECC is taking a very sensible approach to introducing cloud services, looking to time its introduction with the letting of their new contract in 2014 so that they can drive maximum savings. Having said this, there is nothing in the current contract that prohibits the use of cloud. The service provided is based on a secure shared infrastructure with BIS [Department for Business, Innovation and Skills] and now also makes use of Fujitsu’s secure cross-government cloud services to provide network and storage services. So DECC has always been forward thinking in its use of IT and, with 42 cloud-based services to be available via G-Cloud III, Fujitsu is also committed to supporting the government’s future vision."

Steve Hammond, president of mobile software company Fiberlink International, added it was likely that more public sector organisations would adopt to the cloud. "As private industry continues to reap the benefits of cloud in terms of greater flexibility and lower costs, it is only natural for the public sector to look to follow suit in this age of economic uncertainty," he said.

Update - 13 May 2013:

The comment from Fujitsu's Nigel Shaw was added to the story above. 

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