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Insights from the first UK Council to ‘Go Cloud’

We caught up with Rocco Labellarte, Head of Technology and Change Delivery, Royal Borough Windsor and Maidenhead, for an in-depth study of what public sector agencies should look for when rolling out a Cloud solution. Rocco is presenting a case study at Public Sector Cloud World Forum entitled First to the Cloud! Reflections on RWBM’s Journey to becoming the first UK Council to ‘Go Cloud’. Download the brochure here. Public Sector representatives can claim a complimentary pass, here.

Rocco LabellarteWhich opportunities, from your point of view, can cloud computing bring to the public sector?

The UK Government aims to drive down cost, improve efficiency and transform services with a Digital by Default choice. Significant savings will only start to flow when the public sector is able to challenge providers robustly, and their offerings can be compared like-for-like. This will grow as more Authorities move to the Cloud and share their collective experience. Transforming services will need much more than channel shift. Public sector delivery needs a complete overhaul to respond to the diverse and fast-changing demographic makeup of our country. By far the biggest opportunity, not yet centre-stage for local authorities, is that of simplifying through sharing solutions, moving from the parochial “we’ve always done it this way” to centres of excellence. Cloud computing, more than anything before, can enable this movement, if enough leaders across the public sector want to make it happen.

How does your organisation plan to leverage cloud computing in the next 12 months?

We have been recognised by GOV.UK as the first local authority in the UK to move fully into the Cloud. In eighteen months we have moved from a fully in-house maintained infrastructure to a Cloud computing environment with multiple providers of Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service. Having a more stable, resilient platform provides the foundation upon which to move toward Software as a Service solutions. The drivers are a major rationalisation of our massive software portfolio. We intend to reduce down from over 300 applications to a few dozen over the next 12 to 36 months. This will enable far greater control over the information we store, allowing us to provide far better access to that data both to individuals and through Open Data protocols. Equally importantly, SaaS will enable us to fully embrace Agile as a technique for continually improving the way we deliver our services. Finally, as more and more Authorities move to an “infrastructure-light” delivery model, the ability to share resources and services will take a big step forward.

What are the main steps in building success and managing failure in public sector cloud implementations? 

Infinite time, infinite resource and infinite budget mean you should never fail to deliver a project. Building success means ensuring your plans take any constraints on those three factors into account and managing expectations accordingly. Then you need to factor in the people, the politics (with a small p) and changing priorities as these are the three most common variables that constantly affect your ability to deliver.

Why are you speaking at the Public Sector Cloud World Forum and what do you hope to get out from your time at the event?

Not for the first time, the Public Sector is under pressure to deliver more with less. Doubts about whether or not Cloud computing is achievable or even desirable are voiced all the time. Sharing experiences is one of the values that underpin working in Government and, having delivered our own Cloud strategy, I’m interested in sharing our own and other people’s experiences, so we can build a more comprehensive picture of how best to succeed.

Join in the debate with Rocco at Public Sector Cloud World Forum, 2-3 December, Kensington Close Hotel, London.

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