The UK government is set to adopt a cloud first policy, where central government departments will have to use public cloud services wherever possible.
A similar policy was adopted in the US in 2010, when the then US federal government chief information officer Vivek Kundra set a goal of devoting 25 percent of all federal IT spend to cloud computing initiatives. The aim was to decrease the government's overall tech spend.
At an event in central London, both Kundra and the UK G-Cloud programme director, Denise McDonagh, discussed the decision by the UK government to follow in the footsteps of the US government.
"We have been talking about how to drive the pace of cloud adoption within government and sitting with the minister right now is a paper on a cloud first policy," said McDonagh.
McDonagh said she could not give a specific date of when the policy will be put in place, but indicated it would be soon.
"At this point central government organisations will have the mandate to say the public cloud has to come first," she added.
The current G-Cloud programme McDonagh leads was launched in February 2012 with the aim of driving the uptake of cloud computing in the public sector. The online system allows the public sector to rent the use of services as needed and do away with lengthy contracts.
The system also allows SMBs to sell to government departments in equal capacity to larger enterprises.
Now the G-Cloud will form the backbone to the cloud first policy.
Already government departments have been strongly encouraged to adopt cloud services from the G-Cloud by the central procurement control process in the Cabinet Office, which checks all costly government procurement deals.
However, now the control process is to become fiercer and will not allow central government departments to spend on services unless they have seriously considered the public cloud.
"The process is already in place, but the mandate is there now," suggested McDonagh.
While all public sector organisations can buy services off the G-Cloud framework, including the police, the NHS and the BBC, the mandated cloud first policy will only be applied to central government departments, she added.
McDonagh said she is already seeing government departments save 50 to 90 percent on the total cost of ownership of some services through the adoption of cloud computing architectures.
The success of the G-cloud programme has achieved a lot of interest internationally, continued McDonagh, with governments from Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium wanting to hear more about its implementation and operation.
However, McDonagh warned that further success of the G-Cloud programme relied on government departments brushing up on their buying and procurement skills.
"The problem is we have outsourced some of the capability about who should make risk-based judgements. You have to make risk-based judgements when buying things. We need to bring that capability back in-house and develop it so that departments can make informed judgements," said McDonagh.
Meanwhile Kundra, who is now the vice president of emerging markets at Salesforce, spoke of the challenges he had encountered when driving through the cloud first policy in the US.
"The challenges come down to how the old guard perceives technology. They always tended to bring up the issue of security so we took that head on and opened up an intellectually honest debate about security."
Kundra said he hammered home the message that just because a service was being run by government, it did not mean it was secure.
In fact Kundra said it was clear at the time that the US government security professionals could not keep pace with cyber criminals like those security experts in the commercial space.
Kundra also explained how he had forced government CIOs into accepting the cloud first policy.
"I took a picture of every CIO in government and next to it I put the name of the IT projects they were responsible for, and the return on investment these projects were achieving," said Kundr. He said that within six months federal government had cut billions of dollars from its IT bill.
"I don't believe this is naming and shaming. It's just recognising that when you are a public servant you are paying for services using taxpayer's money. I don't understand why you should not be transparent."
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