UKCloud: Empowering the “Cloud First” Policy of the U.K.’s Public Sector

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In 2017, UKCloud received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the most prestigious award for businesses in the United Kingdom. Rt. Honorable Lord Maude of Horsham, a longtime member of the House of Commons, summed up the impact of the company on the government:

“Congratulations to UKCloud for this significant achievement and its continued innovation,” said Horsham. “I hope that UKCloud’s success will inspire many other startups and small businesses to go on to do great things and keep the UK ahead of the global digital game.”

Today UKCloud is doing just that. Serving numerous government organizations—from large central government departments through to regional NHS trusts —the company’s more than 250 employees play a key role not only in the U.K. government’s digital transformation, but also in its “cloud-first” approach.

“In 2013 our government specified that all central government departments take a cloud-first approach on any new technology purchases unless they could show that a different approach was more economical,” says Leighton James, Chief Technology Officer at UKCloud. “UKCloud was founded in 2011 to enable the government’s ICT strategy, and as our name shows, we’ve focused on the cloud and cloud services from the beginning. Today we offer a multi-cloud platform that provides access to the right technology to suit individual customer workload requirements while simultaneously addressing the needs of those that want to develop true cloud-native applications.”

All of UKCloud’s infrastructure technologies and services, are hosted in U.K.-based data centers, supported and managed by staff located in the U.K. Moreover, UKCloud, together with its ecosystem of partners, offer software capabilities to help organisations adopt a more holistic solution enabling the use of cyber security, artificial intelligence, big data, digital working, disaster recovery and backup to ensure businesses keep pace in an evolving environment.

“UKCloud was founded on core values that include doing what’s right to improve public services for U.K. citizens and protecting U.K. data, like the national asset it is, with sovereign cloud services,” adds James. “The needs of our public sector differ from the private sector in that there is more emphasis on data governance. From patient data and citizen records all the way to military details, everything must be handled safely and in a secure cloud environment. Accreditations and certifications are also paramount in the sector, along with the need for providers and partners that are able to align assurance across people, process, premises and technology.

James also notes that providers often must deliver access to other government networks such as those for Health and Social Care and the Public Services Network. The company’s UKCloud for VMware offering is a secure, completely sovereign cloud that aligns with the country’s National Cyber Security Centre principles, is available across multiple security domains, and is natively connected to government networks. Unlike most public cloud platforms that are only suitable for OFFICIAL, UKCloud offers two additional security domains to meet the needs of higher classification levels.

The Importance of Being VMware Cloud Verified

“Being VMware Cloud Verified is exceptionally valuable to us for many reasons, but one of the most important is that it enables us to support organizations through their data center modernization programs and support a true hybrid approach. We can build and operate VMware cloud technology that customers know and trust across customer-owned facilities (i.e. private cloud), UKCloud’s government-grade facilities (both secure cloud and public cloud) as well as VMware cloud environments on hyperscale platforms – delivering a consistent, familiar and seamless experience into cloud,” says James.

UKCloud is also seeing significant demand for VMware technologies to power their multi-cloud strategy, and enable new services like Digital Workplace based on VMware Horizon, as well as managing the costs involved with multi-cloud. In UKCloud’s recent State of Cloud Adoption Survey, 80% of respondents agreed that “fear of runaway costs” is a notable concern, a reflection of the survey’s finding that there is a clear need for more commercial control and flexibility.

As UKCloud noted in the findings, “This supports the demand for offerings like the cost optimisation service offered by UKCloud and is powered by CloudHealth from VMware, which helps organizations better understand the costs they are incurring on hyperscale cloud platforms.”

Despite the concerns highlighted in the survey, James sees a dramatic increase in the use of cloud technologies and services in the months and years to come. The cloud addresses not only legislative requirements such as the mandate that data and information be secured and stored safely for years, but also the increasing expectation among citizens that they be able to interact with government services at any time. 81% of the survey respondents also stated that cloud is merely an enabler for their organisation to adopt transformative technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Smart Places and IoT/hyper connectivity. This is where, as James notes, “the cloud can help to accelerate innovative solutions and help the sector transform their services to meet these evolving needs.”

There are of course more fundamental benefits as well.

“One of the projects we are working with in healthcare is Genomics England, the largest genome sequencing project in the world,” James explains. “The platform we deployed is able to deal with the scale and complexity of genomics sequencing data and runs on the UKCloud for VMware technology. The aim is to improve outcomes for patients with rare diseases and cancers, and it’s already begun to transform the way NHS patients are cared for. It’s a project that demonstrates the true value of the cloud.”

Learn more about UKCloud and its partnership with VMware here.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.