BBC sets up expert group of cloud controllers

The BBC has set up a central group of IT, security and user communities to manage its purchase and use of cloud computing

The BBC has set up a central group composed of IT delivery team, security architects, lawyers, infrastructure experts and user communities to manage the purchase and use of cloud computing at the organisation.

“The central group focuses on current cloud usage as well as regulates, informs and communicates cloud use at the BBC,” said Paul Boyns, head of infrastructure strategy and architecture at the BBC.

The broadcaster created the central group because of the volume and complexity of cloud procurement in the organisation. 

Boyns told delegates at Cloud World Forum 2014 that there are four different types of cloud buyers within the BBC:

  • business traders who buy cloud after seeking advice from IT
  • solution architects who buy cloud services in a monitored and controlled fashion
  • developers 
  • end users whose purchases are uncontrolled

Recognising the penetration of cloud IT within the organisation, the BBC adopted the strategy to educate all four types of cloud buyers. 

“Our role is to help buyers understand BBC’s cloud usage policy such as when it is OK to use cloud, what type of cloud services are allowed for what type of applications, and what data considerations must they pay attention to,” Boyns said.

The central group also develops cloud guidelines, explains lock-in and portability issues, sets out information security concerns, and explains contractual terms and conditions, legislation and compliance.

IT the cloud broker

“The BBC is also looking to introduce a cloud broker capability and work out where IT adds value to the business and where third-party might be a better fit,” Boyns said. “We understand the importance of IT becoming a broker in the cloud era but we don’t have that yet at the BBC.”

According to Boyns, the role of IT needs to change and incorporate value-added services such as market awareness to help cloud buyers make informed decisions. It also need to develop procurement capabilities to underpin the purchase of cloud services chosen by the business on behalf of the business.

“It is time to decide what kind of cloud organisation you are,” Boyns said. “Internal IT needs to work out what it is – cloud builder, buyer or broker.”

IT must make it easy for people within the business to do the right thing, he added. 

This will keep IT relevant as the power of the technology buying decision moves progressively to the business and away from the IT.

“There is no one buyer of cloud,” he said. “There are just individuals with business needs using the technology of their choice to address their requirements.”

Boyns also discussed the importance of using a service catalogue and orchestration tools for rapid cloud provisioning. “We have tech tools that allow service catalogue through to orchestration to allow simple ordering of private or public cloud services.

“The BBC uses the service catalogue to present the compliant cloud services with agreed contracts to the buyers at the organisation.”

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