How cloud computing will help government save taxpayer £3.2bn

Whitehall puts sharing at the top of the agenda with new ICT strategy

Whitehall puts sharing at the top of the agenda with new ICT strategy

The government has revealed plans to cut £3.2bn from its annual spending by 2013/14 by sharing software and IT services in the cloud.

The Government ICT Strategy, published by the Cabinet Office today, aims to cut the public sector's IT spend using a series of measures, including building a government-wide cloud computing platform called the G-Cloud, a Government Application Store, and a single telecoms network infrastructure.

Government CIO John Suffolk said the aim of the strategy is to make public sector IT systems more efficient to run and support by streamlining the IT infrastructure that underpins government.

"It is very clear that the cost to the public sector will have to come down," he told silicon.com.

"It cannot be a sustainable position where the public sector has hundreds of datacentres and tens of separate networks.

"There has to be more efficiency within the system."

Among the measures set out in the strategy is a plan for all public sector organisations to be able to share each other's telecoms networks, creating a single, secure network and generating annual savings of at least £500m.

The savings would be achieved by implementing common operating and security standards on existing and new networks, and by public sector organisations purchasing new networks from an agreed pool of suppliers.

The new ethos of sharing and reuse will also extend to public sector software and hardware.

Currently, public sector organisations purchase many separate versions of the same type of software packages, serving common departments such as HR and finance, as well as much of the same IT infrastructure.

The strategy aims to make millions of pounds of savings by ending this overlapping spending and allowing public bodies to reuse the same software apps - hosted on centralised G-Cloud datacentres.

government datacentres

The government's new ICT strategy will drastically reduce the amount of datacentres it runs
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

As public sector organisations move their systems from their own individual datacentres to the G-Cloud, the public sector could cut the number of datacentres it relies on from hundreds down to about 12, the strategy says, saving about £300m per year and reducing power and cooling requirements by 75 per cent.

A further £500m could be saved by the creation of the Government Application Store, a repository of common software applications that public sector organisations could reuse on a pay-per-use basis and which would be hosted on the G-Cloud, the strategy says.

The strategy hopes to realise targets to reduce annual public sector IT spend by £3.2bn by 2013/14 set by the Treasury in its recent Operational Efficiency Programme.

Other measures in the strategy include setting the specifications for the desktop computers that should be purchased by public sector organisations, which it estimates could save £400m per year.

The strategy also repeats an earlier government pledge that public sector organisations should choose open source software when it is as good as competing proprietary software packages and also suggests measures to promote green IT including refreshing the Greening Government IT strategy to set mandatory minimum green standards for ICT products and services.