Universities lead public sector in cloud adoption

Analysis of cloud adoption across councils, public bodies, universities and emergency services reveals slow progress and many hurdles to climb.

Universities top the public sector cloud rankings (36% store at least 10% of their data in the cloud), followed by public bodies (29%) and local authorities (21%). Emergency services lag behind at just 13.

Meanwhile, 91% of public bodies still use on premise data centre storage, compared to just a third of local authorities (34%) – this rises to 61% of emergency services and 72% of universities.

The report by Eduserv and Socitm raises concerns that progress in the public sector still faces some serious challenges, six years on from the launch of the government’s Cloud First strategy.

The study, based on data from 633 organisations and interviews with IT leaders across the public sector, identified variances in how many organisations have adopted a cloud infrastructure policy guidance or strategy.

Public bodies lead with 79% having a strategy in place, followed by universities (55%). Meanwhile, just over half of emergency services (51%) and 44% of councils have taken similar steps.

The study also revealed that the motivations for cloud adoption vary by organisation: universities and public bodies are more drawn to scalability and agility, while emergency services put cost savings top.

Research paints a picture of how IT is being managed differently across types of organisation. The vast majority of universities primarily manage their IT in-house (96%), with only 1% outsourcing and 3% using a hybrid model.

Public bodies are the organisations that use outsourced IT the most (20%).

Meanwhile, emergency services are second in outsourcing IT at 16%, and local authorities a close third with 15%.

Cloud adoption journey

“As the report highlights, the journey will start on-premise and will almost certainly transition into a hybrid phase, possibly for quite some time, as many organisations are insufficiently mature in their IT management and information governance,” said Andy Powell, CTO at Eduserv.

“During their journey to the cloud, public sector organisation IT departments will need to refine their IT delivery models, based on an improved understanding of cloud technology and its potential, new governance models and opportunities of information and data. There is no better time to start thinking about those issues than right now.”

Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm, said: “The rate of cloud adoption by public sector organisations reflects some serious challenges their IT leaders are currently facing with austerity’s budgetary cuts, lack of understanding by the leadership in other parts of the organisation, and a need for culture change.

“Cloud can be a useful vehicle to facilitate collaboration. It is important that public sector organisations understand that cloud technology is not the end result. Rather, it can be one of the enablers of better ways of working and more effective service delivery to achieve better outcomes for citizens.”