final thought PUBLIC DUTY Paul Todd of Outsourcery explains why cloud providers need to do more to highlight cloud benefits for the public sector. D espite the healthy progression of cloud adoption across UK government in some form or other, many public sector organisations are yet to make cloud a significant factor for their core services. One of the biggest hurdles to the adoption of cloud in local governments is in communicating the full business benefits that a cloud hosted solution will deliver, and how it can deliver the best value for money. Historically, public sector CIOs have contracted legacy IT services to a limited range of suppliers over long periods of time, so it is not surprising that many have felt most comfortable remaining with their traditional suppliers when moving to cloud. While this may look like the most convenient course of action on the surface, government bodies are still missing out on the innovative, flexible and cost effective solutions that individual cloud providers offer. To ensure public sector organisations are made more aware of these benefits, cloud service providers (CSPs) need to play a major part. It’s crucial that CSPs effectively promote the benefits of standardised services, namely how they can 58 provide a high quality, scalable cloud service at a reasonable price, which likely represents better value than sticking with their traditional supplier. Here, cloud specialist SMEs can bring real innovation and agility, setting them apart from hyper-scale cloud providers. The current cloud market is a diverse one in terms of the number of service providers in operation. By taking advantage of this diversity, the public sector can be assured that cutting edge, constantly evolving technologies will always be at their disposal. By sticking with existing suppliers because they are familiar, they risk missing out on this wider range of options. Public sector organisations are suffering from a culture of dependence, and the perception of increased risk in moving away from older suppliers. As a consequence, supplier and technology lock-in is much more common in public sector bodies than in their private sector counterparts. To increase efficiencies and address skills gaps in some public sector teams, these constraints need to be removed. Cloud, if used correctly, can be a great catalyst for this. It remains the prime responsibility of public sector bodies to address this skills gap and educate themselves on what CSPs can offer. However, this is still a new field for many organisations and with a dynamic range of companies in the marketplace, it can be hard for public sector buyers to differentiate between the CSPs and their range of service offerings. CSPs themselves can make a difference here. The government and Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) must also offer their assistance in educating public sector buyers, not only on the benefits of cloud, but also in helping them make the right choice of provider to suit their needs. The work of Government Digital Services and G-cloud has played a key part here in central government, so efforts should be redoubled in order to replicate this success in local government and other agencies. To solve the problem of sluggish public sector uptake of cloud services, all parties must play their part. Awareness of the benefits is key, and this is where cloud service providers, the government and CIF really need to make their mark. Only then will more public sector bodies fully embrace change and begin to harness the full benefits that cloud provides.