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by Staff reporter
04 April 2018
Majority of councils using hybrid cloud and on-site data storage, SOCITM and Eduserv study finds

Majority of councils using hybrid cloud and on-site data storage, SOCITM and Eduserv study finds

Cloud - Image credit: Fotolia

Councils are gradually taking a more “cloud first” approach to their IT strategy, but some are being held back by legacy contracts, according to a new report.

The study, carried out by IT professional body SOCITM and consultancy Eduserv, is based on a survey of 373 of the UK's 418 councils, and draws on interviews with local authority IT leaders from across the country.

The study found that 62 per cent of councils are now storing data in the cloud, up from 52 per cent in 2016, while 44 per cent now have guidance or a strategy in place for cloud infrastructure.

Previous research by the organisation in 2016 found that just 39 per cent of councils had a cloud policy in place.

The new research also finds that a hybrid model of cloud and on-site IT is now “the dominant model of IT infrastructure in local government” – although the report makes clear that this is often by necessity, rather than choice.

According to the research, 81 per cent of councils still use one or more on-site data centre, while 42 per cent make use of a third-party facility.

Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) are using a hybrid model, mixing up on-premise with cloud hosting.

The research sheds light on the way legacy IT contacts are putting the brakes on cloud adoption in some councils, with leaders highlighting the restrictions caused by existing deals.

Marion Sinclair, head of strategy and enterprise architecture at Kensington and Chelsea, told the study: “We are looking to adopt a cloud-based model as far as possible but we have a lot of legacy applications and a lot of long-term contracts which we can’t really seek to re-procure with something already in place.

She added: “The approach has to be one of seeing out these contracts and then when the time to invest comes around again, you can leverage that opportunity to move forward. It’s a case of having a long-term vision which we move closer to each time we make a change.”

Stephen Vercella, head of ICT at Wiltshire Council, meanwhile told the study that his organisation was taking a cautious approach to cloud adoption, based on the shape of the existing estate.

“The whole idea behind moving to the cloud is that you size it for what you need and then buy additional capacity when you need it,” he said. 

“You can’t do that without looking at your existing IT estate and identifying what you can get rid of and what you don’t want to move to the cloud… I have looked at the option of a ‘lift and shift’ of our IT estate to the cloud and the cost of it is very expensive, largely because it will be full of things I don’t want or don’t need.”

The report meanwhile finds some councils battling to overcome scepticism among staff that a shift to less resource-intensive cloud storage could spell the end for their own jobs. 

Launching the study, EduServ’s CTO Andy Powell said: “The standout finding from this research is that councils are in no-way averse to cloud technology. 

“While not the dominant IT model, a growing majority are using cloud in some way and more plan to do so.

“However, for things to move faster, it is clear that council CIOs need to acknowledge and overcome barriers caused by culture, skills and the way that councils budget for IT.”

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