Thursday, June 18, 2009

UK Government CIO sheds light on "G-Cloud" plans

Interesting discussion happening on the CCIF Mailing list today. John Suffolk (UK Government CIO) responded to the recent discussion of the UK governments plans to create country wide cloud Infrastructure (aka G-Cloud).

Suffolk had this to say:
Our approach to G-Cloud stems from the work we have been doing over the past 3 years: Focus on getting desktop designs standardized; rationalize the morass of telecommunications infrastructures into a "network of network" under the Public Sector Network Programme; rationalize the datacenteres; drive through the open source, open standards and reuse strategy; surround each of those individual elements with the Green IT strategy and our Information

Assurance strategy. That gives us the ability to start moving towards cloud in a sensible way. As part of this rather than having a shared services in departments we will move them to the cloud so the sharing across the public sector (more than 5 million people) can be even greater.

The open source, open standards and reuse policy provides an interesting opportunity. How easy would it to build a Government App Store? The European law on procurement for public sectors is complex but if we can crack this we shift the paradigm again. More than happy to listen to your views on this.

I find the concept of a government app store particularly interesting. In my recent conversations with the US CIO council the concept of improved IT procurement through the use of web based services was a hot topic of conversation. A kind of Amazon EC2 meets the Apple App Store makes a lot of sense in distributed organization such as a large governmental agency. One of the recurring themes was the lack of perceived security that such a deployment may have. This is especially true when considering a virtualized environment.

Another big point of contention has been within the aspects of standardization. I'm not speaking only about things such as standardized API's but also common terminologies. A perfect example is the recent NIST cloud definition which has become the formal definition for any cloud based services or platforms being acquired in the US federal government. Before you can hope to embrace a cloud centric "network of networks" computing approach, you first need to have a consensus on how to describe the various aspects found within unique parts of the cloud. Semantic approaches may also help.

Personally, when thinking about cloud computing with in a governmental context, interoperability and open standards are a particularly good starting point with open source references deployments the logical next step afterward. At the end of the day, governments represents some of the largest consumers of technology on the globe and as such you have the power to mandate these sorts of requirements when either considering or actually developing the next generation of IT systems and platforms.

#DigitalNibbles Podcast Sponsored by Intel

If you would like to be a guest on the show, please get in touch.