City of Westminster CIO David Wilde on shared services and cloud

City of Westminster CIO David Wilde is making something of a name for himself on the CIO circuit in that – in a high-profile role that is often cautious – he is an unashamed proponent of such hot topics as shared services and cloud computing.

“In the public sector there’s been talk for a number of years about shared services but not a lot happened,” he says. “There were counties or districts and maybe schools administration shared services but not at the level of finance teams, for example. Because of the financial constraints we’ll drive that harder. Rather than having silos, it will be ERPs and sharing teams.”

It’s a sensitive area because ‘efficiencies’ typically mean reduced headcount, but that can’t be an excuse for not automating and saving where it makes sense.
“It’s not exclusive to the public sector but you’re talking about people’s jobs. You’re going to have fewer managers and, inevitably, fewer staff, or why do it? That’s a difficult thing to get people to sign up to, but it’s manageable if you can get the benefits across and show that it’s more about people retaining their jobs.”

Free association

As for cloud computing, Wilde sees the phenomenon as the realisation of long-standing attempts to reduce dependence on internal systems, and is currently engaged in a programme to move desktop computing and core applications to a private cloud that will be largely controlled by consulting partner Capgemini and that will see Westminster’s current datacentre in Victoria Street repurposed.

“Two years ago we called it ‘infrastructure-free’ because nobody was using ‘cloud’,” says Wilde.

“It’s about not having to retain a lot of expensive IT on our estate – which, this being Westminster, is an expensive estate – and taking advantage of what the market deploys. [Specialist datacentre hosts] are better than we are at it so why do we have to have datacentres at all? And of course it’s going to be lower cost, more robust, have better disaster recovery and [make us] better able to adapt to change.”

Other changes also help trim costs and let Wilde’s department focus on making a strategic difference.

“Desktops are commodity items and at home I don’t...

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