Councils warned over cloud service adoption

A study of what happens when local councils transfer services to cloud computing has resulted in local authorities being warned to research before switching to the cloud.

After Warwickshire County Council and the London Borough of Hillingdon first announced plans to switch in 2012, local authorities have sought to move in-house IT services to internet-based providers in an attempt to save on costs.

However, despite the financial benefits, many public sector managers view the cloud as more a liability than labour saver, with data security and downtime the biggest fears. The researchers discovered that a lack of data ownership and loss of control and governance were the largest barriers to successful adoption, while better information management and mobile working were recognised as the key advantages to councils switching to cloud-based technologies.

Dr Uthayasankar Sivarajah, part of the research team from Brunel University London, said: “These findings have messages for both local government and central government. One of the authorities faced an immediate security breach that caused chaos. Data was accessed illegally by an unauthorised third party and the private sector cloud provider blamed human error.

“There are huge black holes between what the councils are trying to do and what they are achieving. At operational level they could all see real benefits in cost savings. But it is still early days and we don’t know what the long-term impact will be. That may take 10 years to find out. It might reduce the headcount in IT departments, but I can’t see it cutting out the need for them altogether.”

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