I’m unconvinced by George Osborne’s promises today to cut spending without hurting public services but one small yet significant change that is likely to arise in the wake of the statement could be positive. That is, the government and public sector are likely to become leaders in the field of cloud computing, creating interesting and valuable case studies for the private sector.
Early-movers to the cloud will be organisations that have a change imperative. They include distressed firms in the media, airline and other spaces, but in the UK at least they will also surely include the enormous state apparatus. There are two reasons for this. First, the scale of the changes required is such that they cannot be achieved by sweating assets, renegotiation or financial arbitrage. Second, these organisations require the ability to move fast in order to react to new statutes.
The public sector will provide some fascinating templates and best practices will follow. In particular, it will be interesting to see how Whitehall addresses questions of security and governance – and attendant PR and marketing – in departments and projects that use the cloud.
It will also be interesting to see what happens next with the G-Cloud, effectively a private cloud that is proposed as a central service repository. Ironically, however, the biggest cloud project mooted so far could be axed due to concerns over the nature of IT mega-projects. The former shadow science and innovation minister Adam Afriyie publicly stated his doubts on the wisdom before the election and he was probably speaking for his party too.
There may not be an appetite for a single, holistic project like the G-Cloud but the government needs radical new approaches that don’t require armies of consultants so I expect some big cloud announcements to appear quite soon and this could also be the cue for a big push on open source software adoption.