With the public sector facing lower government budgets in response to a restricted economy, the advent of the cloud could not have come at a better time for public bodies wanting to do more with less.
Central governments want the public sector not only to save money but also to be more innovative in serving citizens, and they are looking to the cloud to help enable these aims.
They want public bodies to procure services more cost effectively through the cloud, share data more efficiently with other agencies through the cloud and make public data more freely available to citizens and businesses using cloud technology.
Government Cloud Spending
The importance of the cloud in meeting government expectations is reflected in worldwide government IT spending figures. According to leading analyst group Gartner, worldwide IT spending by government organisations is projected to total $449.5 billion (£300 billion) in 2013, a slight decrease of 0.1 per cent from 2012.
Despite decreased spending in some areas, mobile technologies, IT modernisation and cloud computing are the top three focus areas for investment in 2013.
Gartner analyst Christine Arcaris says, "Cloud computing, in particular, continues to increase compared with prior years, driven by economic conditions and a shift from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, as well as important factors such as faster deployment and reduced risk."
Government departments told Gartner they are adopting private and public cloud-based services at an increasing rate, with 30-50 per cent of organisations having an active cloud contract or planning for one within the next 12 months.
While the focus initially was on software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud implementation, future rollouts would include infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud deployments, said Gartner.
The UK Government G-Cloud
The UK government launched its G-Cloud (Government-Cloud (opens in new tab)) project around 18 months ago, which was designed to give central, local and other public agencies a chance to benefit from a cloud-hosted procurement platform.
The G-Cloud allows the public sector to buy commoditised IT products from a pre-approved list of vendors through a constantly changing supplier framework.
Minister for the government Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, says, "G-Cloud has shown itself to be a model for efficient public sector IT procurement, establishing a dynamic marketplace for cloud-based IT services.
"We have simplified the procurement process through G-Cloud to make it more accessible to a wider range of suppliers, leading to more choice, better value for the taxpayer and growth for the economy."
He added, "This is the way we want government IT to be – simpler, quicker, cheaper and focused on matching solutions to business requirements, reducing waste and cutting costs."
Government Cloud Data Sharing
On the cloud data-sharing side of things the UK government also recently opened its Open Data Institute in "Tech City", East London, an area where a burgeoning number of IT startups are springing up.
The Institute's founders, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the "father of the web", and professor Nigel Shadbolt have assembled a team to help government and business identify commercially valuable public data that can be efficiently shared over the cloud.
The Institute also promises to nurture innovative data-driven start-ups, and support both the public and private sectors so they can work effectively with open data.
The UK government is working with the Institute to make data more readily available and accessible and to maximise its potential for stimulating growth. The government is already commmitted to releasing key open datasets on health, transport, weather and welfare.
The government has already released thousands of datasets which companies can access to help grow data-driven businesses.
Startups like Placr are already benefiting, as it is using the released data to create commuter-focused apps, along with Locatable, which is a startup using other datasets to build apps that make house-hunting easier.
Another notable player, Mastodon C, a big data analytics company, plans to increase the environmental performance of cloud computing, by using the information in government-released datasets.
The Cloud and Public Sector Networks
To support procurement and data sharing, the UK government is also behind the promotion of Public Sector Networks (PSNs), which enable councils, health bodies, the emergency services, charities and other bodies in the public sector to link up their operations in a cost effective way, to share data and help improve services to the public.
The UK Cabinet Office has already brought in BT to become a provider of the core network underpinning its ongoing Public Sector Network (PSN) programme.
The PSN is not a single network, it is in effect a secure cloud-based internet specifically for the public sector. BT will interconnect PSN direct network service providers (DNSPs) to government departments, with those DNSPs in turn supplying local authorities throughout the UK with network connectivity to central government and other local authorities to aid data sharing.
The initiative will aid the adoption of shared services, cloud-based services and datacentre rationalisation, says the government.
HP Supports Public Sector Cloud Services
HP is a leading cloud systems management provider and Its HP CloudSystem is one of the most complete, integrated and open platforms that enable organisations and their service providers to build and manage services across private, public and hybrid cloud environments.
Based on the proven, market-leading HP Cloud Service Automation and Converged Infrastructure, HP CloudSystem integrates servers, storage, networking, security and management, to automate service delivery management. The result is a complete cloud solution that lets organisations gain agility and speed.
HP CloudSystem Delivers
HP CloudSystem delivers broad application support and helps public bodies package, provision and manage cloud services to users regardless of where those services are sourced, whether from CloudSystem's on-premises resources or from external clouds.
As part of the HP Converged Cloud architecture, the public sector has a simplified, integrated architecture, that is easier to manage and which provides flexibility and portability between private, public and hybrid clouds.
While there is plenty of hype about cloud computing, HP systems can bring you real benefits. Embracing cloud where it makes sense for your organisation can reduce your costs. But embracing cloud means cutting through the hype to find real solutions.
HP Cutting Through The Hype
No matter where you are in the cloud adoption lifecycle, HP has the people, processes and proven track record to make a real difference, and help you take a direct route to the cloud. With HP as your partner, you'll be on your way to reaping the benefits of cloud computing - without the hype - because HP offers the most extensive range of cloud computing expertise, products and services.
Contact HP today and learn more about the services and systems discussed in this paper and how HP can help make your journey to the cloud a smooth one. To learn more about HP Converged Cloud solutions, go to:
HP CloudSystem at hp.com/go/cloudsystem
HP Converged Cloud at hp.com/go/cloud
HP Cloud Demos at hp.com/go/cloudsystemdemos
For more information on HP cloud services, visit http://www.hp.com/uk/cloudinaday (opens in new tab)