Public Services > Central Government

Lack of leadership and inadequate skills hold back public sector cloud adoption

David Bicknell Published 21 September 2017

Cloud Industry Forum and UKCloud report finds that although 82% of public sector organisations have deployed at least one cloud service, adoption is more shallow than deep


Cloud service providers have warned that the UK public sector currently lacks the leadership and skills to go beyond picking only the lowest hanging fruit in its adoption of cloud-based services.

A new research report published by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) together with UKCloud has warned that migration challenges also mean the public sector has yet to truly achieve the sort of transformation needed to keep pace with citizens’ expectations and to do so, it must embrace cloud more wholeheartedly.  

A survey by Vanson Bourne to determine the level of cloud adoption among participants and to gain insights into attitudes, experiences and trends across the UK public sector found that whilst 82% of public sector organisations have formally adopted cloud-based services, up from just 62% a year ago, adoption remains shallow. 

The limited adoption is the result of several obstacles that have slowed progress. 40% of respondents stated that they lacked the budget needed to move more applications to the cloud, over half (54%) cited an unwillingness to take risks and a quarter (24%) of respondents reported that they were held back by a lack of appropriate skills.  

Alex Hilton, CIF chief executive said, “The take-up of cloud computing within the UK public sector has been a story of consistent growth, and the overall adoption rate of has more than doubled since we first started charting the cloud market seven years ago. This growth is thanks, in no small part, to the efforts of the Government Digital Service to accelerate the sector’s move to digital services and the launch of G-Cloud. But while comfort with cloud is clearly increasing, and public sector organisations are achieving a wide range of benefits as a result of their use of cloud services, for many organisations, penetration cloud services remains relatively shallow."  

He added, "Public sector organisations tend to find moving to the cloud a more complex challenge than their counterparts in the private sector. Long-standing and heavy investments in legacy technology can be obstacles to rapid adoption, while a lack of appropriate funding and a shortage of people with the right skills to manage cloud services act as a significant brake on progress. These obstacles must be navigated and addresses as a priority if the public sector is to progress and make a lasting break with old ways of working.”

UKCloud chief executive Simon Hansford said, “The data indicates that many of the migrations that we have seen to date in the public sector have targeted the so-called low hanging fruit – typically virtualised applications that can simply and easily be shifted into the cloud. While this is a good start, to unlock the full potential of cloud and digital transformation, organisations need to tackle the complexity inherent in many processes, overcome the cultural barriers to adoption and seek to breach departmental silos.

“In many areas, this will require them to rethink the way that services are delivered and then truly embrace an agile, cloud-native approach while radically changing their internal operations. I hope that, with the right assistance from the industry, we will see more progress along this path when we come to reveal next year’s research findings.” 

Peter Middleton, director at Cloudline and chair of the CIF Public Sector Special Interest Group (SIG) stressed the joint role of cloud service providers, government, and CIF itself in facilitating a more cloud-savvy public sector.

“In order for public sector organisations to avail themselves of the best of cloud computing they need to understand what’s available in the marketplace and how it aligns with their requirements,” he said. “This requires better collaboration within the established G-Cloud procurement framework and the Government Digital Marketplace. It is for this reason that we established a special interest group dedicated to helping public sector organisations better understand the cloud marketplace and to helping CSPs meet their requirements.”   

The new SIG hopes to help cloud providers better align with the needs of public sector buyers using the government’s G-Cloud procurement framework and Digital Marketplace.

The new group is understood to have a series of key goals, including increasing the volume of cloud services purchased through G-Cloud, pursuing openness and transparency on the future vision and direction of G-Cloud, and helping vendors to match their services with the requirements of public sector buyers.

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