By David Terrar, CEO of D2C Limited, Co-founder of Cloud Advocates
Deployment of IT in the UK's public sector has tended to be characterised by bad press from failed projects or big budget overspends. That's all set to change with, potentially, the biggest shake up in the way it procures and uses IT in decades. The Cloud, combined with some radical thinking by the man in charge of cloud strategy inside government, is at the heart of the new approach. Chris Chant is the man responsible - he's Director of the UK Government G-Cloud programme. I was very sceptical about how Cloud would be adopted inside government until I met Chris through Intellect's Software as a Service group, and then heard him speak at Intellect's Cloud Conference in November, and then the Business Cloud Summit in December.
As a senior civil servant at the heart of government IT strategy, Chris is like a breath of fresh air. He says it is not acceptable that we can do secure online banking, but not securely communicate with government. He says it's crazy that government won't let staff access Twitter or YouTube or Gmail. He says it's nuts to restrict staff access to the Internet. You can hear Chris use this kind of language yourself, courtesy of the Government Digital Service, speaking at a conference back in October - he uses the word unacceptable quite a lot - here's an extract to give you a flavour:
"It is unacceptable not to be able to do our work from any device we choose. That's possible, and has been for some time, and it's outrageous we can't do that.
"It is unacceptable to pay, and these figures are PAC figures, up to £3,500 per person per year for a desktop service.
"It is unacceptable for your corporate desktop to take 10 minutes to boot up, and the same amount of time to close down. But that's the truth of what goes on every day in government IT, and I suspect public sector too.
"It's unacceptable for staff to be unable to access Twitter or YouTube when they use those services for what they do; and it's unacceptable for call centre staff not able to access the very service they are supporting in the call centre. These all sound funny, but when you think of the consequences of that, it's truly dreadful."
One of the most important things that Chris has stated publicly is that it is unacceptable that government IT is controlled by only 5 or 6 companies and that he wants to open up the market to smaller providers. UK government isn't going quite as far as the US government's "Cloud First" strategy, but the target is that 50% of government services will be on the cloud by 2015. With Chris leading the charge I can see it happening.
David Terrar is a consultant and software developer who specialises in the use of Cloud applications and social media in business. He is a co founder of Cloud Advocates, an association of consultants who aim to demystify the Cloud and provide pragmatic help and advice for businesses, organizations and accounting practices. To find out more, visit www.cloudadvocates.com
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