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Councils moving slowly on cloud strategies

22/07/16

Eduserv survey points to lack of planning by local authorities in shift to external data centres – along with signs of 'cloud creep' and uncertainty over where data is held

Nearly half of the biggest councils in the UK have yet to formulate plans to use cloud computing, despite 73% saying that they use the cloud for some form of data storage, according to research from Eduserv.

survey of 100 local authorities – ranked at the top of the national table according to revenue – found that 44 did not have a strategy and only 15 were considering a cloud policy.

The not-for-profit IT service provider also found the inclination towards on-premise data centres is still strong: 63 of the councils said they had two or more and 34 were using no external data centres

Only 10 of the councils had moved to a pure cloud IT model and 93% held all but a negligible amount of data on premise (defined as 10% or less of the total).

Data concern

“One of the things from the research that we found most concerning is that over a quarter (27%) of the councils approached for the survey could not provide a breakdown of where their data was currently held,” said Andrew Hawkins, public sector director of Eduserv.

“This shows that information management maturity is still relatively low in local government, which needs to be addressed in the move to digital delivery.”

The survey, which took place between March and June, also points to a significant level of 'cloud creep', in which individuals or teams use cloud services without any central direction. It places the findings that 18% of councils said they do not use any cloud service against claims by Dropbox that most UK councils are using those it provides.

Some respondents were also unsure where their data was held: 27 could not or, in a couple of instances, would not say.

jos-creeseJos Creese (pictured), principal analyst for Eduserv’s Local Government Executive Briefing Programme, said: “While there is little surprise that only a handful of councils are showing digital maturity in their adoption of cloud services, the fact that such a large number have yet to formalise any sort plan for using cloud IT is of great concern.

“As cloud use becomes more ubiquitous, local authorities cannot afford not to have plans to ensure that it is used safely and with controls in place to ensure data is managed in a way which reduces risk.

“From a strategic perspective, the prevalence of on premise IT shows that the majority of councils are still poorly positioned to exploit digital change in a way which generates both service and financial benefit.

“If councils are to go down this path then it will be critical to address the apparent lack of clarity around where data is stored which emerged from our research.”

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