According to Gartner, the need to cut service costs will drive public sector organisations onto the cloud in coming years.
Adopting the cloud will help governments around the world deliver more cost-effective public services, researchers have argued.
According to Gartner, more than 25 per cent of government services – outside of national security and defence – will have been migrated to the public cloud by 2017, with long-running in-house IT deployments left by the wayside.
This is despite many public sector organisations having "higher levels of concern" over information security in light of recent scandals like the US National Security Agency leaks, commented Rick Howard, a research director at the firm.
"In the long shadow cast by the global financial crisis … there remains an acute need to reduce the overall cost of providing government services while remaining responsive to citizen expectations," he explained.
As a result, many departments and public bodies will find the benefits of adopting the cloud outweigh the risks – especially as in-house IT systems become prohibitively expensive to run.
In the UK, the NHS is perhaps one of the public sector organisations that stands to benefit the most from outsourcing functions to the cloud. A previous attempt to modernise the NHS – the National Programme for IT – was written off after years of budget and schedule overruns, and widely criticised as having used a one-size-fits-all approach. However, the organisation has still been challenged by health secretary Jeremy Hunt to go paperless by 2018. By swapping outdated, in-house IT systems for cloud-based ones, trusts might be able to do this cost effectively.
Unlike running a data centre on-premises, adopting the cloud means organisations only pay for the storage space and computing power they use at any given time. As utility prices soar – and indeed, as the amount of data used by business grows exponentially – this is becoming near-essential for organisations without the resources for keeping in-house IT ticking over.
Of course, before the NHS can take advantage of outsourcing these functions, it’ll need to successfully digitise the large portion of patient records still stored in paper form.