The London borough of Hounslow is looking to eliminate most of its on-premises IT infrastructure within five years with the uptake of cloud services such as Box, while also implementing a bring your own device policy for laptops and smartphones.
Anthony Kemp, Hounslow Council's director of corporate resources, told V3 that the push towards cloud was a timely one for staff, whose IT infrastructure had not received significant investment for a number of years.
"We said we need to be able to do anything, anywhere, any time while remaining completely agnostic about the device that a person has," he said, talking to V3 at the official opening of Box's new international headquarters in London.
"We asked ‘why do we want to own infrastructure?' We don't want it." So, based on a 'work from anywhere mindset', Kemp said he wants the council to be "infrastructure free" within five years.
Kemp added that it is not just staff who are set to benefit from Box integration, Hounslow's 250,000 residents could soon start seeing documents arriving in the form of Box URLs if they prefer.
"It's a generational thing," he said. "There are some residents who would rather use the website the way they do now, but if you look at 16-19 year olds coming onto our services now, they'll be using smartphones and other mobile devices and they'll be comfortable with getting a link for a document, going on and commenting on it."
He said he also hopes organisations such as schools in the area would follow their example and integrate Box into their own systems. Kemp acknowledged the need to tread carefully with sensitive data, though, of which the council holds a significant amount.
"When we get to putting [data onto Box] which is more sensitive, we'll start discussing with our data owners," he explained. "If they're not comfortable, we won't do it. But I get the feeling that there's going to be a general change of view in the UK cloud - local government likes to follow central government, so since central government is more relaxed now, they'll follow."
Further to Hounslow's cloud strategy, staff will soon be able to bring their own devices, a radical departure from current policy of a single, council-managed laptop.
Council workers will have the choice of using an internally-prepared smartphone and tablet, or bringing their own personal device to work on following the signing of a waiver which allows for the installation of mobile device management (MDM) software which has the ability to wipe their device if they lose it.
Hounslow Council is now in the process of rolling out Box to its 2,500 staff - currently just 70 core staff are on the system but plans to have completed the rollout by the end of 2014.
The push to the cloud from Hounslow comes amid growing cloud uptake at organisations of all shapes and sizes, such as white goods marker Whirlpool which said its 68,000 strong workforce will use Google Apps services, hosted in the cloud.
Google chief executive Eric Schmidt also said this week he thinks it is "inevitable" that all organisations will start to use the cloud in one form or another in the future.
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