Much has been made in the last six months over the extent to which local government has started to engage with the government’s cloud-first agenda.
With headlines pronouncing that IT heads are shunning G-Cloud and potentially losing money from failing to adopt cloud solutions you might be forgiven for thinking local government was stuffed full of Canute-like figures, resisting the tide of change that is washing through the public sector as a whole.
A closer look behind the headlines shows quite a different picture however.
Take, for instance, the survey by iGov. This poll of senior officers from local authorities found that just under one in five of local authorities (19%) were already using G-Cloud and a further third (35%) planned to do so in the future. That means just two years on from the launch of G-Cloud just over one in two local authorities is aware of the procurement platform. I’d say that is pretty impressive, particularly as G-Cloud was not even initially designed as a solution for local government.
Another interesting survey referenced in the articles comes from IT supplier Bull.
Through freedom of information requests, they established that only 1% of the annual £440m spend in local government had gone through G-Cloud. The problem is that the year in question for the research was 2012-13: the launch year for G-Cloud, where there were fewer services and suppliers on the platform. What’s more, any spend falling outside of this window was invisible. Hardly surprising then, that figure in the survey was so low, relative to total IT spend.
The true picture around cloud adoption in local government is, as you might expect, much more nuanced.
One person who knows more than most about this is Rocco Lebellarte, CIO at Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Rocco shared his experience of migrating his organisation’s IT to the cloud at our recent Public Sector Cloud event in Westminster.
The first point he made is that much of the important work around cloud migration happens before a penny is spent on procurement. This is the development of a business case, auditing existing systems and planning what will be migrated and when. Rocco told us that this process was measured in years rather than months.
The second point he made was that it is wrong for local government to blindly follow the path to cloud. While in most cases cloud computing can save money and transform the way organisations work and deliver services, there will also be instances where the benefits don’t currently add-up.
So to say that local government is turning its back on the cloud simply isn’t true.
In fact, from what we see, local government is a place where some truly ambitious cloud-driven change is taking place, like that delivered by Rocco.
It’s just that in order to be delivered effectively it takes time, planning and solid business case before the investment can be made.