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GDS publishes guide to cloud hosting strategy


Mark Say Managing Editor


The Government Digital Service (GDS) has outlined how public sector organisations should be creating a strategy for their use of cloud hosting services.


It has published the approach along with pulling together all of its guidance on the use of cloud services into a single document.

The hosting strategy has been devised to help organisations take a coordinated approach and avoid the creation of complex and expensive technology estates. It places the emphasis on going through a process to deliberately create a strategy based on the needs of the organisation’s users.

Among the key features are to:

  • start with problems before looking at the type of solution;

  • choose the simplest options possible, balancing requirements against cost and complexity;

  • adopt a transitional plan for moving systems and building the necessary skills;

  • and acknowledging that sometimes the simplest solution is not enough.

The latter involves taking into account risks around the concentration of cloud providers, high risk data or complex security requirements, issues around legacy or unsupported technology, specific feature requirements and the influence of any legislation.

Targets and tracking

The document states that it is important to set targets and track them to ensure the organisation does not get stuck in its transition.

“If your organisation stays in the transitional state it could result in you having to do more work to mitigate the issues which may arise by not completing your strategy,” it says.

The consolidation of cloud guidance into one place follows a round of research, sponsored by GDS interim chief Alison Pritchard and Government chief commercial officer Gareth Rhys Williams, into what organisations find difficult when setting up and managing strategies.

Among the findings was that organisations are more likely to get value for money and deliver effectively if developers and technical teams work closely with commercial teams to understand they have a firm grasp of costs. Also, technical and security teams should work with HR on training and certification plans, while organisations can create multi-functions standards, patterns and behaviours so delivery teams do not have conflicting advice from different functions.

The guidance covers elements such as assessing the commercial case, balancing technical lock-in, managing costs, data residency and security, along with providing a number of case studies.

Away from legacy

Pritchard and Williams said that using the guide should help organisations move away from legacy technology, and  commented: As the heads of the digital and commercial functions within central government, we firmly believe that the public sector should approach cloud cross-functionally.

“Cloud technology can aid in transformation within organisations, but that is only possible with collaboration between multiple functions to help successful adoption.”

They added that GDS is aiming to produce a new commercial framework and security guidelines for cloud services soon.

Image by Michael Jastremski,, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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