Despite reports to the contrary, the government’s Cloud First policy is not being killed off, the Government Digital Service (GDS) confirmed today, saying it plans to “keep the policy as it stands. It’s not being revised, reissued or renamed.”
The announcement came amid growing speculation that Cloud First – which requires the public sector to evaluate cloud solutions first before considering any other option, and demonstrate that alternatives offer the “right levels of security, flexibility and value for money” – would be quietly retired, or at least rebranded.
Channel Web reported today that the Crown Commercial Service’s had said Cloud First was “not doable for everyone”, while the CCS’s Niall Quinn also told New Statesman Technology that “you need to acknowledge that [on-premise hosting] can still exist”. Consultations were reportedly underway to rename the policy.
Cloud First “As Relevant Today as when it was Introduced”
In an update today, Rhiannon Lawson, GDS, Head of Technology Policy and Tom March, GDS Lead Technology Advisor, wrote: “Cloud First is as relevant to government today as it was when it was introduced, and will remain a flagship technology policy. Our plan, as informed by user research, is to keep the policy as it stands.”
The GDS and CCS had consulted with “lots of different organisations from large central government organisations to smaller agencies”, they wrote: “Some of them like the Food Standards Agency have already fully moved to the public cloud. Others like the Ministry of Defence have a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy.”
The conclusion: users recognise that Cloud First gives them flexibility and doesn’t, by default, require an outright public cloud migration. With brand recognition of the policy requirements strong, a change would be counterproductive, the GDS determined, and will instead be tightening up guidance.
“More Help Needed”
The GDS’s Lawson and March wrote: “While the policy is clear, organisations do need more help when considering the potential benefits of different approaches to cloud. Crown Commercial Service and GDS, alongside many other departments, have established a working group to explore how we can help users balance technical and commercial requirements when procuring cloud solutions.
“And our user research indicates that organisations need extra help on issues such as lock-in, cost optimisation, and what benefits they might get from hybrid or multi-cloud. We’ve started work on several pieces of guidance that will support organisations with these issues. This guidance is being written in collaboration with users to make sure it’s clear and meets their needs. We’ll be creating this guidance with the help of the TDLN peer review group, and publishing it in the coming months.”