Government weighs up adopting 'cloud first' policy
Cabinet Office considering following in the footsteps of the US
The Cabinet Office, and in particular the government chief operating officer Stephen Kelly, is currently considering whether to pursue a cloud first strategy across the whole of government.
It is unclear precisely what form such a strategy would take, but if adopted, a 'cloud first' policy is likely to mean central government departments would evaluate the possibility of using cloud computing options- web-based applications and services- before making any new IT investments.
Denise McDonagh, the Home Office's IT Director, would like to see a cloud first policy not only within her own department, but across central government as a whole.
She said,"We are, certainly in the Home Office, talking about a cloud first policy. We have put a submission up to our chief operating officer to try and create a cloud first policy across central government.
"That is being considered by the Cabinet Office. It's a definite aim and it's being considered just now. Personally- and this is a personal view- I think there is some agreement with the view that we should have this cloud first policy. As I say, that's a personal opinion and we will need to wait and see what the Cabinet Office say."
US federal agencies have been operating with a cloud first policy since December 2010, and a number of other countries are believed to be considering instituting similar directives.
However, McDonagh was keen to point out that the UK cannot simply copy the example of the US, as the two countries operate differently in the area of government IT.
She said, "In the US they have adopted cloud first. Now, some of the challenges between us and the US- because we [the G-Cloud programme] just spent an hour with the Americans last night- is that most of their services are in-house whereas the UK has probably got the highest proportion of outsourced services across most governments.
"So therefore it's more difficult here...you can mandate in-house and you can do things with more control than you can manage through contractual levers with big contracts. So we have that added dynamic that makes it a little bit more difficult."