The former IT chief of the UK government has claimed that the public sector spends the majority of its tech budget “keeping the lights on”.
VAR ONI recently held its Cloud Computing Summit 2011 in central London and John Suffolk, who served as government CIO for five years, gave the keynote speech. He claimed that the UK government currently runs more than 220 datacentres at tier-2 level or above. Some 53 per cent of the public sector IT budget is typically spent on hardware infrastructure, added Suffolk.
“[It is like] if 53 per cent of your budget was spent getting electricity into your home,” he said. “[Public sector] people say that we are spending so much keeping the lights on that we have no money left for innovation.”
Suffolk revealed that five per cent of project budgets are often spent on procurement costs. Within a framework, tender costs can run to £500,000. An open tender for a major project could cost £10m, with a gap of more than two and half years between the project getting the green light and its reaching completion.
Suffolk (pictured) compared the tech space to the retail industry in terms of how major players control what customers are able to see and, ultimately, buy.
“But cloud changes that,” he added. “Often, [hardware] vendors will tell you that you must use Microsoft or IBM or Red Hat [for example]. But what you are interested in is the application. Would you expect electricity providers to tell you which kettle to use?”
Cisco research finds that, over the next two years, the amount of public sector applications operating in the cloud will rise from seven to 23 per cent. Private clouds are by far the most widely accepted in the public sector, with 28 per cent of respondents using them and 40 per cent considering doing so. Just eight per cent are using a community cloud, with a further 22 per cent mulling it over.
Lewis Honour, security business practice manager at ONI, cautioned end users to take the security implications of cloud seriously. The so-called dilution principle, whereby security increases as something becomes much more widespread, does not apply to cloud, he stressed.
“It is all right for the guys at the top to say ‘reduce costs’ but what is the indirect cost of that reduction?” said Honour. “When considering cloud, you need to do a proper impact assessment.”
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