Government lays out cloud and open-source IT strategy

The government has detailed plans to shrink its IT estate and cut costs through the use of shared infrastructure and services, cloud computing and open source
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The government has announced an IT strategy that focuses on open-source software, the consolidation of datacentres and websites, and smaller IT projects.

Francis Maude

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has pledge to make government IT more efficient and cost effective. Photo credit: Cabinet Office

Monolithic IT projects have not been successful, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said in a statement on Wednesday. "For too long, government has wasted vast amounts of money on ineffective and duplicate IT systems," said Maude. "We need to ensure that frontline services have the tools to do their job to deliver effective public services."

The Labour government spent £16bn on IT in 2008-2009. Now, the coalition government is planning a number of measures designed to cut costs and reduce the size of its IT projects.

"The ICT strategy is a new and dynamic document that defines a roadmap with 30 actions that will see us reduce and cut costs, duplication and waste, deliver common infrastructure based on a series of open standards, drive interoperability, and support the ongoing work of digital by default," deputy government chief information officer Bill McCluggage told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

For too long, government has wasted vast amounts of money on ineffective and duplicate IT systems.
– Francis Maude, Cabinet Office

The government will aim to become a "single intelligent procurer of ICT", according to its strategy, and will develop a procurement process designed to make it easier for SMEs to gain government contracts. The government said it will publish guidance within six months on prerequisites for IT projects worth over £100m.

In the interests of interoperability, the government will establish an open-source implementation group, a system integrator forum and an open-source advisory panel, to promote open source. The government will also publish a toolkit for open-source procurement.

Datacentre consolidation

Datacentre consolidation, coupled with maximisation of space, should help meet a target of 35-percent datacentre cost savings over five years, a Cabinet Office spokeswoman told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

The government has over 210 datacentres for central government and policing, and wants to consolidate that number to around 12 as part of its G-Cloud strategy.

The government has continued plans from the previous government to share and reuse IT products and services, and to formulate a network of systems called the Public Sector Network. The G-Cloud online apps store, which has been trialled since early 2010, will be delivered within 12 to 24 months, according to the strategy published on Wednesday.

Cloud computing also features in the plans for shrinking the government's IT estate. Part of the plan is to develop a desktop prototype for the cloud, and the government will publish a cloud-computing strategy in the next six months. In addition, the Cabinet Office has appointed Tom Loosemore, who led the consolidation of the BBC's websites, to cut the number of government websites.

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