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Blue light organisations are lagging behind the rest of the public sector on the cloud adoption front, suggests a research report from not-for-profit IT provider Eduserv and trade body SOCITM.
The report is a direct follow-up to a piece of research conducted by the pair in 2018, whereby local councils were quizzed on their cloud use.
This year’s version garners views from a much wider pool of public sector IT buyers, including 633 organisations representing the emergency services, education sector and other public bodies.
Their research puts the emergency services at the bottom of the rankings for public sector cloud adoption based on the fact their data shows just 13% of blue light organisations store at least 10% of their data in the cloud.
There does appear some degree of appetite for change within the blue light sector, though, as 56% of organisations said they are planning to procure public cloud services within the next year, but – at present – just 51% have adopted a formal cloud infrastructure strategy.
The sector cited cost savings as its top motivation for wanting to move to the cloud, with 84% of respondents naming this as their number one priority. This was followed by scalability (75%), agility (70%), the need to modernise (69%) and improved security (68%).
Keenest cloud adopter
The university sector topped the cloud adoption rankings overall, with 36% organisations in this sector claiming to house at least 10% of their data in the cloud, but it is also among the most tightly wedded to its on-premise datacentre resources.
For example, the data accrued from the respondents revealed 91% of public bodies still use on-premise datacentres, and so do 72% of universities and 61% of emergency services organisations. Whereas just 34% of local authorities said they still use on-premise resources too.
For respondents within the university sector, scalability emerged as their top motivator for moving to the cloud, with 75% of the vote, followed by agility (73%), modernisation (64%), cost-savings (60%) and then security (58%).
Rounding out the cloud adoption rankings, public bodies came in second place, with 29% of organisations claiming to be storing at least 10% of their data in the cloud, while local councils came in third with 21%.
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The differences in how quickly organisations are adopting cloud, and the variances in their reasons why, is symptomatic of the different challenges IT buyers in various parts of the public sector face, said Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm.
“The rate of cloud adoption by public sector organisations reflects some serious challenges their IT leaders are currently facing with austerity’s biggest budgetary cuts, lack of understanding by the leadership in other parts of the organisation and a need for culture change,” said Ferguson.
“Cloud can be a useful vehicle to facilitate collaboration. It is important [therefore] that public sector organisations understand cloud technology is not the end result. Rather, it can be one of the enablers of better ways of working and more effective service delivery to achieve better outcomes for citizens.”
Andy Powell, CTO of EduServ, said the fact so many public sector organisations are still relying on on-premise datacentres strongly suggests a hybrid cloud model will be favoured by most.
“As the report highlights, the journey will start on-premise and will almost certainly transition into a hybrid phase, possibly for quite some time, as many organisations are insufficiently mature in their IT management and information governance”, he said.
“During their journey to the cloud, public sector organisation IT departments will need to refine their IT delivery models, based on an improved understanding of cloud technology and its potential, new governance models and opportunities of information and data. There is no better time to start thinking about those issues than right now.”