Offshoring data is biggest barrier to government in the cloud

Offshoring data is the biggest obstacle to putting government services in the cloud, according to a survey of MPs and peers

Offshoring data is the biggest obstacle to putting government services in the cloud, according to a survey of MPs and peers.

Cloud services in the public sector are expected to trail the private sector in the same way offshore IT services did, unless fears are overcome.

Despite more than 80% of members of both the houses of parliament calling for increased use of cloud computing services, 57% of MPs and 58% of peers believe the biggest obstacle is fears over data moving offshore. 

A total of 153 MPs and 104 members of the House of Lords took part in the survey by cloud services provider Skyscape Cloud Services.

The study also revealed that 97% of MPs and 83% of peers believe the UK provides adequate security for data.

Skyscape CEO Simon Hansford said concerns around offshoring activity affecting the security of data are timely given recent media and political focus on the issue.

“G-Cloud buyers are currently required to identify the location where their data will be processed and stored, and to understand the jurisdictional and legal implications in order to make an informed risk assessment,” he said. 

The concerns reflect the immaturity of the public sector in terms of cloud take-up. Traditional offshore IT services were in the past viewed as risky by public sector organisations despite the largest businesses in the world, including security conscious banks, establishing the activity.

But as offshore IT services matured, the UK public sector began to have IT and business processing outsourcing (BPO) services delivered from offshore locations. While this is still a small proportion, it is growing.

For example, India’s largest IT services firm, Tata Consultancy Services, won a contract to run the Disclosure and Barring Service, which was created when the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority came together. But as part of this it opened a delivery centre in Liverpool to ensure it complies with government rules on security. The centre has more than 300 staff.

The Met Police could soon have services delivered from offshore locations. The organisation is outsourcing HR, payroll and procurement divisions through a BPO deal with a joint venture between the government and French IT service provider Steria, known as Shared Services Connected Ltd. This could see work moved offshore.

Steria already carries out work for the NHS offshore through the NHS Shared Business Service, which provides Oracle-based back-office services. It has staff in Pune, India.

Read more on Offshore IT services

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