Government IT chief hits out at EU cloud strategy


The Government's deputy CIO Liam Maxwell has hit out at EU plans to certify "trustworthy" cloud providers, claiming it will limit the range of IT suppliers the public sector can do business with.

The initiative was one of a number the European Commission put forward last week in its "Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe" strategy document.

Governments will sleepwalk into buying into cloud services.

Speaking at the Strata: Making Data Work conference in London earlier today, Maxwell described the cloud provider plans as a "tremendously retrograde step," in light of the work the UK Government has been doing to widen the range of IT suppliers it uses.

"It will enable the oligopoly that has driven IT for many years to police the cloud...and Governments will sleepwalk into buying into them. Not just here, but across Europe," said Maxwell during the event's opening keynote.

To prevent this, Maxwell called on the EU to ensure the certifications are based on "sensible, open standard and open source" approaches.

"This will enable the whole market to be free and allow people to make use of data, so people can work with the Government to provide better services," added Maxwell.

The importance of openness was a recurring theme of Maxwell's speech, with him extolling the economic benefits of the Government's decision to embrace open data and open source.

"We are not [pro] open source because we think it's the best thing, but we feel that approach to technology is important for opening up markets," he said.

Providing prospective IT suppliers with information about future public sector projects was an example of the work the Government is doing around openness, he said.

"We are going to open up our new spending pipeline, so you can see the projects the Government is working on...we're not going to lock it up and suddenly issue a tender, at which time it is too late," he said.

"The Government is open to you to invest in. It will give you the ability to invest and get involved with us, [because] you have a lot more experience of working with data," he concluded.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.