Data security remains top concern for public sector cloud procurement, says Socitm

Data security is still a concern for public sector organisations planning cloud services, says the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm)

The security and accountability of data remains one of the main concerns for public sector organisations planning to procure cloud service, the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) has found.

The IT professionals network surveyed over 100 public sector authorities and organisations regarding the procurement and use of cloud computing, and found 47% of those surveyed would not use cloud applications for IT services involving personal data or business critical functions.

Some systems stated as inappropriate for use with cloud services include “secure e-mail and PSN-related systems”, “social care” or “housing management”, systems which require heavy integration with non-cloud based systems and “mission-critical, emergency services and control systems”.

“Cloud adoption strategies need to be a balance of cost, risk and benefits. Respondents’ concerns about managing risk are completely rational,” Civica managing director Steve Shakespeare told Socitm.

“The planning stage requires a thorough review of all data available and being prepared to be flexible in your approach, as one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to cloud.”

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Procurement issues

Of those who had already heavily invested in cloud applications, more than 60% used the Digital Marketplace, formerly G-cloud/Cloudstore, to procure cloud services.

But more often organisations are using existing procurement models to buy cloud services.

One difficulty about this method of finding and buying cloud services is that the proposed system may not provide the customer with everything they need.

“Effective use of a catalogue-based approach presumes that a) the customer knows exactly what they want, and b) that exactly what they want is available in the catalogue,” said Shakespeare.

“There’s a big difference between simply buying a single software application-as-a-service and potentially putting multiple lines of business applications, plus your infrastructure and your data – essentially your whole system – in to a cloud environment.”

Many believe that regulation and legislation, such as European and national laws, have an impact on the procurement of cloud services, with 22.5% stating legislation as a serious inhibitor.

But it looks as though the growth of cloud-based services in the public sector will soon rise, as 50% of firms said they would definitely invest in a pilot cloud service in the future.

Read more on IT for government and public sector