GDS: Users are still confused about cloud

Range of issues identified across many Government Departments by the Service

Posted 9 September 2019 by

Government users still need a lot of support when it comes to working with cloud, says GDS – six years after a ‘cloud first’ adoption policy was first mandated by the Cabinet Office.

On the plus side, many of the organisations GDS has been speaking to since February after it was decided to get the temperature of cloud confidence in Whitehall do have “quite mature cloud estates” with lots of experience.

But issues identified by the service are also a lot more than pure technical advice – with questions remaining across central government about all areas of cloud adoption, including how to buy cloud or how to hire cloud experts, as well as fears about ‘lock-in’ and questions about how they should use some of the new technologies offered by cloud suppliers such as containers or serverless computing.

‘Computer Repair’ by Hoam al-Ani on Flickr

On the lock-in concern, one Department “found that it could provide the same capabilities for much cheaper by using functionality only offered by one cloud supplier. However, another department decided to only use functionality if it was offered by several suppliers so that it can easily migrate between them if its strategy changes in future”.

Users also did not always know what to do when a service is offered by only one suppliers, ays GDS: “Should they take advantage of the benefits of the unique service or should they not use it so it’s easier to move to another supplier in the future?”

Another issues is that some Departments want to host across multiple ‘clouds’ and some preferred to use a single ‘cloud’, according to a recent blog post by the team’s Tom March.

“We set up a cross-government working group in February and it quickly became clear that Departments can have very different approaches to using cloud,” he notes.

Some good news: “Many participants felt a cloud strategy was a good idea,” March and his team have found by their probe.

“A centralised cloud approach can encourage reusability of patterns and an internal assurance process can make sure that projects all match the agreed strategic approach,” he adds.

March says that the work will continue, both in terms of the support on getting cloud right GDS is making available in connection with the Crown Commercial Service and the Government Commercial Function (GCF), and dialogue with users: “We want to make sure we speak to local government, small organisations, and organisations who are new to the cloud in our next phase of research.”