Government’s ‘Cloud First’ to become ‘Cloud Native’

Policy involves encouraging civil servants to trial new SaaS offerings – and aligns with initiative to harness cloud systems as part of Civil Service office rationalisation

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has signalled an intensification of its central government’s move to cloud services, saying its Cloud First policy is ready to evolve into the more ambitious Cloud Native.

Cloud in sunIt comes at the same time as the Common Technology Services (CTS) team has highlighted the importance of cloud computing in the development of the rationalisation of Civil Service office space under the Government Hubs Programme.

A GDS blogpost says the move to Cloud Native has already begun internally, reflecting its aspiration for government, and that it is planning to hire a new chief technical architect to lead the relevant work.

It puts forward a broad definition of the term to include the flexible adoption of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, and says it involves organising work to take advantage of emerging cloud technologies.

Any staff member in an organisation should be allowed to trial new SaaS applications, with an emphasis on those that integrate into IT architectures through APIs.

There also needs to be a focus on core outcomes and principles in dealing with increasing volumes of data and the proliferation of devices and sensors.

Diversifying applications

“To truly become cloud native, we need to transform how we monitor and manage distributed systems to include ever more diverse applications,” the blog says.

“We need to deepen our conversations with vendors about the standards that will help us manage these types of technology shifts. We need to continue to ensure we always choose cloud providers that fit our needs, rather than basing our choices on recommendations.”

In a separate blogpost, CTS says that cloud is playing a crucial role in a programme to get staff from different departments working in shared regional offices under the Government Hubs Programme.

This involves setting up hubs at locations with good public transport connections and local amenities, and including collaboration zones where people work on cross-departmental projects. Using cloud systems makes it easier for staff to work flexibly and, the blog says, allows organisations to concentrate on their core business.

Shared IT

It highlights the availability of shared Wi-Fi – reflecting GDS’s work on the GovWifi Service – shared printing systems in the hubs and a shared booking system for the meeting rooms. In addition, it will be possible for organisations to use a shared wide area network, either by configuring systems to their virtual private network (VPN) or installing a gateway to create a network level VPN and deciding what traffic can go straight out to cloud providers.

The technology in the offices will be set up securely using cloud multi-tenant principles – through which organisations share access to the systems with specific privileges – and they will also be able to use CTS guidance in decoupling the network from specific security and line of business requirements.

“Working in this way is made easier with cloud services and will open up opportunities for new, more flexible ways of working,” the blog says.

The Government Hubs Programme is aimed at reducing the government estate from about 800 to 200 buildings by 2023 and saving approximately £2.4 billion over 10 years.

Image by Wing-Chi Poon, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons