Virtualisation still a step too far for many public sector bodies

The goal of moving to cloud computing is core to almost every ICT strategy currently being drafted in the public sector.

However, for many organisations the journey to the cloud could be a long one, with the need to transform business processes and resolve significant challenges in embracing new agile commercial models.

Inherent security concerns around the use of a common shared infrastructure for multiple organisations are also a key barrier which needs to be overcome.

Whilst the Coalition ICT Strategy from March 2011 places cloud computing as a core priority, the G-Cloud programme has yet to deliver clear guidance on how public services should move to the cloud, leaving organisations to develop their own cloud roadmap and start an individual journey.

But if it is true that a common cloud infrastructure based upon common standards remains the future aspiration for public sector IT delivery, organisations have to get the foundations right first.

The first step, of course, is to virtualize the physical server estate. This is where public sector inertia feels most apparent.

Virtualization has a proven track-record, with Gartner quoting cost savings of up to 50%, in addition to enjoying increased flexibility, speed and improved quality of service. There are no official figures, but I'd estimate that average virtualization levels aren't much higher than 10% across the entire UK public sector.

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