“Who knows where Amazon will be in 10 years? How could I have predicted 5 years ago that I would be standing here today, in No. 10 Downing Street, talking to the UK Government about the Cloud?”
– Dr. Werner Vogels, Chief Technology Officer of Amazon
Last week Dr. Vogels and his team visited No. 10 Downing Street to discuss how cloud computing could transform Government IT, during a seminar for Government Chief Information Officers organised by the Government Digital Service.
Dr. Vogels defined cloud computing as “a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ across the Internet to multiple external customers”. Calling on his experience from across the globe he outlined how the flexibility and resilience offered by clouds has helped to transform some government instances via the idea of software as a service and the advent of reactive charging models. He gave the example of Recovery.gov in the US as just one of over 100 Government sites using cloud hosting.
Set against these experiences and the use of cloud solutions by GDS and the Cabinet Office, the discussion evolved to cover some of the challenges Departments face. These ranged from problems faced in procuring and managing IT services, inflexible contract terms and gold-plated resilience solutions. Dr Vogel’s presentation served to challenge some of the preconceptions which underpin existing government services and left us with the vision Linda Cureton (NASA CIO) described where “cloud will allow us to replace every procurement screen with a deployment screen”.
The ICT Strategy, published in March 2011, set out the Government’s commitment to making public sector ICT more efficient and cost effective. The use of cloud computing will be vital to achieving this. Major cost savings for Government could be made possible by resources such as computing power, storage, applications and services being used only when needed and paid for only when used.