Whitehall's journey to the cloud picks up pace

Deputy government CIO Bill McCluggage discusses cloud plans...

Deputy government CIO Bill McCluggage discusses cloud plans...


Deputy government CIO Bill McCluggage says Whitehall departments are beginning to move IT systems onto cloud computing platforms

Deputy government CIO Bill McCluggage says Whitehall departments are beginning to move IT systems onto cloud computing platformsPhoto: Jack Clark/ZDNet UK

Whitehall departments are pioneering the government's plans to access IT services from the cloud.

Deputy government CIO Bill McCluggage told silicon.com that departments such as the Home Office and the Department for Education (DfE) are moving IT systems onto cloud platforms. "The inputs are starting to grow, almost on a weekly basis," he said.

McCluggage gave the example of EduServ, the company that hosts DfE IT systems on a virtualised platform, which he said is being given a "cloud flavour" as time passes.

The Home Office and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) are also moving computer systems to a cloud infrastructure platform known as Government Wide Service provided by Savvis.

Other public bodies testing the cloud approach include Warwickshire County Council. McCluggage said it was all part of creating a "mixed ecosystem" of "foundation delivery partners" to test the cloud model in the public sector.

In the latest national IT strategy, the government said it will produce a document setting out its implementation plans for cloud computing within six months.

In the 2010 IT strategy produced under Labour, the government spelled out plans for a cloud computing infrastructure, known as the G-Cloud, to be a "key enabler" of £3.2bn savings per year that the Operational Efficiency Programme said should be possible by 2013-14.

However, McCluggage said the size of savings generated by the government's use of cloud computing will depend on how individual public-sector bodies adopt the model.

"We are seeing public services starting to adopt cloud technologies as a fundamental part of underpinning their savings," he said.

"How much, is a matter for the individual organisation that is going to be taking up those types of services, and how much they collaborate with other parts of the public sector to take advantage of the ecosystem that is growing."

The cloud computing strategy feeds into the IT strategy's goals to consolidate the 8,000 or so datacentres in the government's IT estate by sharing IT infrastructure and applications, and to reduce datacentre running costs by 35 per cent over the next five years.

To help achieve this goal McCluggage said discussions about "datacentre clusters" were taking place between the Ministry of Defence, Department for Work and Pensions and MoJ.