Public Sector cloud: ‘It’s all about timing'

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Cloud computing is the hot topic in the private sector, with many businesses looking at what their next move in adopting the technology should be.

But what about the public sector? At a time when money is tight and cost cuttings are hitting the whole country hard, is it embracing the benefits cloud can bring or shying away from change?

Who better to ask than the head of public sector at VMware, Andy Tait, who took on the role after leaving his post as deputy director of the G-Cloud.IT Pro's sister title Cloud Pro met with him this morning for his first interview since taking the post.

A great deal of his focus now is virtualisation and Tait seemed very impressed with the levels of adoption within his old stomping ground.

"We are seeing enormous take up in the public sector," he said. "You would be hard pushed to find a public sector organisation that hadn't [virtualised] to some level."

Tait sees virtualisation as the first step on the road to the cloud, so it would make sense that the public sector has begun its journey. However, a recent FOI request showed just two central Government departments had even dipped their toe into deploying cloud technology.

"Well, there has to be an understanding of what do you mean my cloud," he said. "If by cloud you mean public cloud then no, there probably aren't many central Government departments doing that."

"I can give you a shortlist of Government agencies, non-central organisations that are using public cloud."

So, what's the problem with going public when it comes to cloud computing for Government?

"The challenge with public cloud is [data] is typically hosted overseas," he added. "You can get clever with [protecting the data] but there is a nervousness."

There are general security concerns all round, as although having a centralised group focusing on rolling out the highly protective security could make data even safer, Tait claimed this had to be balanced with the risk of the "increased attractiveness [of] targeting [Government systems] if all the data is in one place."

Despite the mixed attitude to public, Tait claimed private clouds were incredibly common in these environments.

"In terms of organisations that might have created a private cloud, actually there is quite a lot," he said. "HMRC's x86 architecture is almost entirely virtualised. Liverpool Women's Hospital is 90 per cent virtualised. These are just some examples."

He admitted he "wouldn't describe it as true cloud" until the infrastructure is shared with multiple customers and charged per use but Tait claimed the progress made was "an enormous step."

Head over to Cloud Pro for the second part of the interview.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.