U.K. Public Sector Cloud First Policy Hampered by Significant Barriers, Survey Finds

SolarWinds, a provider of IT management software, announces the results of its Freedom of Information (FOI) request into cloud adoption in the U.K. public sector. The results reveal that, although four in every five National Health Service (NHS), central government, and defence organisations are aware of the Government Cloud First policy, public cloud adoption is disparate, with significantly lower levels of adoption in NHS organisations compared to other public sector organisations.

Despite U.K. government guidelines making it mandatory for central government-and strongly recommended in the public sector as a whole-to evaluate public cloud solutions before all others, less than a third (30%) of NHS trusts surveyed and under two thirds (61%) of central government departments have adopted any level of public cloud in their organisation. Furthermore, of these organisations, few have plans to migrate everything to the cloud; this is the view voiced by 41% of central government respondents and a staggering 79% of NHS respondents.

A key trend underpinning this is the difficulty public sector organisations experience monitoring the public cloud as part of their wider data infrastructure. Approximately half of NHS (48%) and central government organisations (53%) use four or more monitoring tools to manage their infrastructure. At the same time, many (77% of NHS respondents, 55% of central government respondents) are either not using the same monitoring tools across their infrastructure, or are unsure if their monitoring and management tools could be capable of working across both on-premises and hybrid environments. The problem is further exacerbated by legacy technology, which 53% of NHS respondents and 50% of central government respondents highlight as one of the key barriers to public cloud adoption.

“While not surprising, the results suggest that public sector users, particularly those handling sensitive data, have yet to be convinced that the public cloud is an integral tool that can provide considerable ROI. Crucial to the lack of trust is the lack of consistency in management tools across the infrastructure,” said Paul Parker, chief technologist, federal and national government, SolarWinds. “The public sector needs tools that can combine the monitoring and management of on-premises and cloud infrastructure, including legacy technology, in a way that clearly demonstrates system performance and ROI potential. Without this, it will be near impossible to achieve the cost-efficiency and data fluidity that the government is aiming for with the Cloud First policy.”

Further findings from each department are as follows:

NHS

  • Trusts who confirmed they are using the public cloud indicated that they are migrating applications (68%), databases (43%), and storage (32%).
  • Security and compliance concerns remain the main barrier (61%) to public cloud adoption, shortly followed by budget (55%) and legacy tech/vendor lock-in (53% each).
  • The biggest challenges when it comes to monitoring and managing the public cloud are determining suitable workloads for the cloud (49%), lack of control into cloud performance (47%), and protecting and securing the cloud (45%).
  • As a result of these concerns, just under one in five NHS trusts (17%) expect to see any ROI from public cloud adoption, and 6% explicitly state that they expect to see no ROI at all.

Central Government

  • Over three-quarters of central government respondents who are using the public cloud indicated that they are migrating applications (76%), storage (53%), and databases (41%).
  • Legacy technology and vendor lock-in are the main obstacles given for public cloud adoption in central government, according to half (50%) of respondents. Security and compliance is the second concern (39%), followed by a lack of skills needed to implement public cloud services (25%).
  • When it comes to the biggest challenges in monitoring and managing the public cloud environment, 35% of central government organisations using the public cloud cited challenges in protecting and securing data as their biggest obstacle, with lack of control across the environment (29%), downtime concerns (29%), and identifying suitable workloads (29%) highlighted as significant challenges.
  • Compared to the NHS, central government respondents are marginally more optimistic about seeing ROI from the cloud, with 18% currently expecting to see ROI, and 65% suggesting it is still too early to determine. No respondents ruled out the possibility of ROI entirely.

Defence

  • In the five-month period from May to September 2017 inclusive, public sector defence organisations spent in excess of £64 million with providers offering cloud-based IT services, demonstrating significant ongoing investment in cloud technology.
  • When surveyed, the Ministry of Defence stated that it is using public cloud, but that less than 25% of its IT infrastructure had been migrated, and they had no plans to migrate everything to the cloud.
  • This low adoption is attributed to a lack of skills, security and compliance concerns, budget constraints, and legacy technology.

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