More than half of European public-sector IT decision makers have no specific budget assigned to cloud computing, while those intending to spend on cloud projects have set aside 15pc at most, a global survey of 1,155 IT decision-makers has found.
The research firm IDC asked government IT executives what had encouraged them or would encourage them to consider public cloud. In its Government Insights Survey, 29pc of respondents cited improving service levels and business agility.
IDC noted that these goals have been priorities for governments in Western Europe for some years, with varying degrees of success. The flexibility offered by cloud would contribute to the agility goal and also to many governments’ service level targets, the firm said.
IT management was ranked as the most suitable function for public cloud services, followed by data backup, archive services, and application development and testing. For private cloud services, data backup, archive services and server or storage capacity on demand were considered the most suitable functions to outsource to the cloud.
Cloud computing concern
Security remains the biggest concern about using public cloud services, with 46pc of respondents expressing concerns about this issue. In particular, allowing systems and information to reside outside of a government department’s own firewall is a major obstacle and IDC said the integration needed to streamline processes would be very difficult to achieve.
Just over one third of respondents (36.3pc) agreed that current laws and regulations are hindering use of cloud computing by their government agency or department.
More than 50pc of respondents agreed that use of cloud services would reduce the volume of data stored on laptops and other personal devices in their agency or department, thereby reducing the potential for data loss.
IDC said the concerns about public cloud identified by government IT executives are real and in many cases justified. However, the private sector has found ways to mitigate the risks associated with many of these concerns.
In the report synopsis, IDC’s EMEA research director for Government Insights Jan Duffy said cloud computing is “one of those technological shifts that triggers enthusiasm and, at the same time, concern for the changes that are occurring”.
“There are benefits and there are risks. The opportunity for public-sector organisations to capitalise on the benefits is clear, but the uneasiness of walking into the unknown is equally evident,” she added.
Western European government respondents are very conservative, IDC found. “Although there is some commitment to cloud, it is telling that in almost all instances more than 75pc of respondents said they had not deployed and were not planning to deploy cloud for any solution in the next 12 months.”
This reluctance isn’t unique to Western Europe, Duffy added. “It should be said that across the other regions, for example, Central and Eastern Europe and Asia/Pacific, government respondents were equally conservative. There seems to be little doubt that despite the rhetoric, the private sector continues to lead the way in take-up of cloud services .… Given the expectations of many that cloud computing will play a major role in government computing, it is a big surprise that the increases expected in cloud budgets over the next three years is so small.”