Councils shun cloud in favour of retaining on-site infrastructure

Most councils across the country are exhibiting a degree of reticence with relation to cloud adopting, since a new study from Eduserv found that it is common for at least two data centres to be operated by a typical local government organisation, according to the Register.

Analysts took advantage of the Freedom of Information Act in order to gain access to the information required to compile the report. It was found that 66% of councils rely on internally hosted hardware in order to house 90% of all digital data.

The government has been pushing to increase cloud adoption across the public sector in recent years, but it seems that councils are not getting the message or are, at least, taking longer than expected to migrate away from traditional IT solutions.

Fifty six per cent of councils have already developed some form of policy which dictates how they intend to make use of cloud resources as part of a wider IT strategy. This leaves a large chunk of councils without any kind of plan for the cloud, in spite of its increasing influence over the market as a whole.

The report revealed that one of the issues facing councils is that decision makers do not actually understand what constitutes a cloud service and what does not. This is evidenced in the fact that almost a fifth claimed that they did not make use of cloud storage of any kind at the moment, which was contradicted by findings that use of the service Dropbox is common across nearly all councils nationwide.

This points to the likelihood of council workers embracing the cloud to make their jobs more convenient even if the use of third party storage solutions and SaaS platforms is not officially sanctioned within the organisation.

This is compounded by the finding that a quarter of councils are either unwilling to talk about where all of their data is stored or obliged to admit that in some cases they are unable to account for all of it.

Report spokesperson, Jon Creese, said that in spite of the apparently archaic approach to data storage taken by many councils, it could be claimed that retaining on-site control over IT was beneficial in this instance because the information for which these organisations are responsible is generally considered to be sensitive and thus requires impeccable protection, to avoid being compromised.

However, he also argues that it is important for councils to look to the future and think about how they can combine their on-site resources with cloud services and use this hybrid setup to their advantage, rather than being entirely reliant on internal hardware for most of their processing requirements.

Another reason to encourage more cloud adoption is the need for continuity in the event of disasters, which can play havoc with IT systems if councils are entirely reliant on data centres based in a single location.

In the four years since the government launched its public sector cloud procurement service G-Cloud, in excess of £1.2 billion in spending has been stimulated by the scheme. But of this total, councils have made up just £57.6 million in cloud investment, further highlighting the problems which persist in adoption rates.

Creese described the current local government cloud market as being in the very early stages of its development, as evidenced by the relatively low amounts of annual spending which are being generated. Some local authorities have done more to invest in the cloud than others, but on the whole, it seems that they are falling behind other parts of the public sector.