Beginning this Autumn HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will commence migration of their data from locally stored offices to a hosted central government storage deposit in the G-Cloud. This is a big move for any large government department and it shows that the public sector is warming to what the cloud has to offer.
The G-Cloud is the government initiative setup to provide the public sector with a pool of approved private companies with whom they can work as well as providing businesses with a reference to their reliability and standards when trying to bring in public sector customers. The pool of approved providers also improves procurement times for the public sector as it cuts out a lot of the initial groundwork searching for potential providers during a tender, for example.
HMRC have said that their hosted storage service would be “cheaper, more secure and greener” as well as helping it to improve efficiency. As far as the Government is concerned, efficiency is a key issue and it hopes the G-Cloud will shine a light on reputable providers who can deliver good services for relatively low cost. For many public sector organisations, data growth is a problem with it becoming more and more difficult to manage which can make it difficult for the public sector to provide the services that the public require.
Phil Pavitt, CIO of HMRC estimated the annual saving to be £1 million. The deal will also push Revenue & Customs in the direction of the “smarter, more innovative solutions” that are obtainable through the cloud. Value for money is always an issue for organisations, particularly those in the public sector who are having to tighten their belts under austerity measures, so any savings will no doubt benefit HMRC in the long term.
Cloud services, of which there are many, e.g. infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS), can benefit many different types and size of business. The main benefit, in terms of cost, is the minimal investment required by the customer, something which is important for all businesses regardless of size.
For small businesses who do not have the capital to invest in expensive hardware or employ extra staff, cloud services allow SMBs to use or offer something that before would only have been possible for large companies. The minimal investment can also benefit a company wishing to use a service on a small scale before adopting it fully if they are not sure of the benefits.
At the other end of the scale, large businesses may be attracted to the cloud by a MSP with a good reputation as it gives them the assurance that a business critical function will be maintained by an experienced provider. This puts to rest the concern that staff may not be properly trained or have sufficient experience to deal with a particular area, which can cause headaches for managers.
If other big Government departments also follow suit G-Cloud could quickly become an extremely helpful tool for both businesses, who will benefit from the leads it produces, and the public sector, who will be able to spend more of their money on services to the public.