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Cloud computing use growing in public services despite security concerns

Cloud computing is either already in use or being piloted by almost 90% of local public service providers despite ‘underlying’ concerns about security, a new report from Socitm has revealed. 

The ‘IT Trends Survey: Cloud computing services’ report found that 66% of respondents have some applications in the cloud and are investigating others; 21% are at the earlier stages of investigating or doing a pilot; and 4%report they are already highly invested users of cloud services. 

On top of this, 4% have considered and rejected cloud. But the association for IT professionals cautions that the figures may reflect some “self-selection” by those choosing to complete the survey. 

Socitm added that of the 103 organisations that responded to the survey, mainly local authorities, almost 70% cited data protection regulations as having an inhibiting effect on take-up and nearly half said there are applications or IT services for which they would not use a cloud services provider. 

These included anything involving person-related data, mission-critical/emergency services and control systems or systems that were highly integrated with other complex systems not in the cloud. Secure email and linkages to public sector networks were also specifically cited as excluded matters, as were ERP and other core corporate systems. 

Commenting on the survey findings, Socitm’s head of research Andy Hopkirk said: “Service providers have work to do in convincing many Socitm members that their personal and corporate business risks are not increased by using cloud services to an extent that outweighs the benefits.” 

Of those who have procured, they most often used an existing procurement arrangement to make a contract over using G-cloud/Cloudstore (now Digital Marketplace) or signing up to a pay-as-you-go agreement. 

Socitm added the limited data suggests that the more committed to cloud computing value a narrower range of benefits than those who are at an earlier stage of adoption, and they value those benefits relatively more highly too. 

The categories where respondents are highly invested, or at least have some applications, include using cloud for office automation and team collaboration purposes; for creating and improving openness, interoperability and data sharing between systems; and improving the experiences of system users. 

It was noted that cost savings as a category is “certainly not the be all and end all benefit sought by respondents across all categories of adoption stage”. 

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