Public Sector and The Cloud First Strategy

By Matthew Reeve on 17th April, 2020.

The Cloud Policy Encouraging Digital Transformation in the Public Sector

The public sector is constantly under scrutiny, and pressure to ‘get it right’ extends to its IT operations and strategy. Unlike the private sector, who do not necessarily have the same budget and process constraints when looking to keep their IT up to date, the public sector must also adapt to the ever-changing political climate and any changes in policy that this brings.

These challenges led to the Government introducing the flagship Cloud First policy in 2013, one of the most important technology policies in recent memory. The policy states that organisations should consider cloud solutions first, before exploring other options. It doesn’t prevent alternative options being taken but says there must be a clear demonstration that the alternative offers adequate security, flexibility and value for money.

This ground-breaking, forward-thinking framework paved the way for widespread digital transformation for central government bodies, for whom the policy is mandatory, as well as the wider public sector, who are ‘strongly advised’ to follow suit.

The Cabinet Office said at the time the policy will “drive wider adoption of cloud computing in the public sector, boosting business – and furthering savings and efficiencies”. In May 2019 it came to light that the Government Digital Service (GDS) and Crown Commercial Service (CCS) were planning to review and revise the original policy, although decided that they will stand by it, possibly with minor guidance alterations.

Gartner predicts Government spending on public cloud services will grow by 17.1% throughout this year and again in 2021. So, what are the key drivers behind this investment? In this blog post, we will investigate Whitehall’s Cloud First policy, why it’s advantageous for the public sector, and what to expect from a digitally transformed public sector in the future.

Reduced Spending, Increased Operational Efficiency

Cloud-based operations have created efficient ways to manage people, processes and everything in-between. The GovUK website lists the following benefits for public sector organisations considering migrating to the cloud.

  • You can avoid upfront investments in your infrastructure, reducing overall costs
  • There’s greater flexibility to trial new services or make changes, with minimal cost
  • Pricing models are scalable – instead of building for the maximum usage you buy for less usage and
    increase or decrease as appropriate
  • It will be easier to meet the Greening Government Commitments – cloud facilities typically try to use
    server space and power in the most efficient way possible
  • Upgrades and security patches can be applied continuously
  • The supplier will have responsibility for making sure your service has good availability for users

First and foremost, the Cloud First policy aims to reduce public sector spending on outdated IT and technology ecosystems. Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said “One way we can reduce these costs is to accelerate the adoption of Cloud across the public sector to maximise its benefits. This Cloud First policy will embed the skills a modern civil service needs to meet the demands of 21st century digital government and help us to get ahead in the global race”.

A Glance To The Future

Research in 2017 by the Cloud Industry Forum found 82% of public sector organisations had deployed at least one cloud service. However, there are still challenges facing public sector organisations opting for cloud adoption. Obstacles such as budget constraints, a lack of knowledge and skills, or even an unwillingness to take risks can all prevent a smooth migration of applications and services into the cloud.

Keeping up to date with cloud-based technology can allow public sector organisations to benefit from advancements in new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation. Most, if not all, public sector departments could benefit from cloud adoption and the Cloud First policy is a step in the right direction for driving the public sector towards a digital infrastructure that everyone can benefit from.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post. As always, if you have any questions, please get in touch.

Image credit: Rafal Olechowski/

Matthew Reeve

Content Executive

Matthew is Secura's content specialist, producing gripping, emotionally complex, edge of your seat, cloud hosting articles and videos.

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