Industry concern that Irish Govt not doing enough on cloud

22 Jul 2011

The 2011 Estimates for Public Services which indicate €300m will be spent on external IT and equipment has caused concern in the IT industry that the Irish Government is taking a “business as usual” approach to IT and is not embracing cloud computing fast enough.

The managing director of Irish IT company Nostra Systems, Kevin O’Loughlin, said yesterday the Government needs to walk the walk rather than talk the talk on cloud computing.

Minister Richard Bruton’s recently announced Cloud Computing Implementation Group is about to have its first meeting. Despite all their talk about cloud computing, the Taoiseach and his ministers are still bogged down in excessive caution and a ‘business as usual’ approach to IT in their departments and agencies,” O’Loughlin said.

“Vague rhetoric abounds. The minister for finance said recently that the cloud was to the forefront of thinking, but the Taoiseach said there were security concerns. On the frontline, money is still spent the old-fashioned way.

“The Government’s own figures (2011 Estimates for Public Services) show that this year across departments, their associated agencies and the HSE over €300m will be spent on external IT, information systems and equipment.

Risk for State sector by relying on old methods

“Where is all this money going? I fear it is a bonanza for some unscrupulous firms who are taking advantage of innocent and unaware Government customers by over specifying and over selling hardware and software ‘solutions’ that could be provided more cheaply and efficiently through the cloud.”

O’Loughlin warned there is a particular risk in the State sector where excessive caution, reliance on historic suppliers, lack of information and a traditional mindset among buyers has allowed IT suppliers to continue to provide outdated, non-cloud based solutions that let suppliers over specify and over charge.

“My information is that some IT companies are not selling the cloud and its advantages to government because there is less money in it for the IT companies themselves. They persist in the old practices of selling their customers servers and other ‘boxes’ they do not need at the expense of the cloud’s lower costs, speed and stability.

“This is an issue that Minister Bruton’s recently announced Implementation Group needs to grasp. It must engage with IT consultancy firms and suppliers and drive them to change and act counter intuitively to the way they have traditionally done business. These suppliers must take a new approach and help Government to reduce its hardware and equipment purchases and lower the complexity of what they offer.

“The State sector is making the right noises about adopting the cloud but walking the walk must take precedence over talking the talk,” O’Loughlin said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years