October 23, 2014
by Jim Gordon
Why do we need a strategy?
The Review of ICT Infrastructure in the Public Sector in Scotland report by John McClelland found that the public sector in Scotland maintained a large estate of data centres and that significant efficiency and energy savings could be achieved through their consolidation. In response to this and other recommendations in the report, the Scottish Government worked with the wider public sector to produce the strategy Scotland’s Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services. This committed to a national strategy for the public sector’s data storage focusing on consolidation and re-use.
How we approached the strategy’s development
The Strategy was developed using a process of consultation and research. We added to and updated information used in John McClelland’s review through a survey of all public sector organisations. This included asking about intentions and thoughts on cloud computing.
A cross-Government working group was also formed that included ICT industry experts as well as representatives from public sector groups. In addition, we learned from what was being done elsewhere through the approaches of other Governments and visits to existing data centres in both the public and private sector.
The full landscape report is available at Scotland’s Digital Future: Report on the current landscape for Data Hosting and Data Centres in the Scottish Public Sector.
The main findings that were consistent across our analysis were:
- There is no consistent approach to decision making on future provision of data hosting.
- A small but significant number of organisations are still considering building their own data centre.
- There are well designed and provisioned data centres which will be used for the foreseeable future.
- However, many are not housed in appropriately secure and reliable facilities.
- Most organisations and sectors have varying levels of requirements for hosting and delivering services. A single solution may not be appropriate.
- Organisations wanted guidance to help them make informed decisions on the best approach for hosting their ICT infrastructure and services. In particular they wanted guidance on use of cloud computing.
- There is a need to identify how costs can be measured in a consistent way to support decision making.
- Data Centre providers generally deliver services and space to higher security standards and use less energy.
Drawing on these findings, we drew up a draft strategy and sought comments on this. Our work was also promoted throughout the process including at a series of roadshows across the country seeking feedback and input.
On 30th April 2014, the strategy for the public sector in Scotland was published setting out how organisation should approach their future requirements for hosting their data and ICT infrastructure.
Scotland’s Digital Future: Data Hosting and Data Centre Strategy for the Scottish Public Sector sets the vision that Scotland’s public sector data hosting is cost effective, carbon neutral and makes appropriate use of cloud technology, for the delivery of efficient and highly available ICT services.
To support us in achieving the vision, the strategy sets the direction and principles which organisations will deploy to enable a shift to service consumption and cloud provision and away from an individual silo approach to data hosting and data storage. Aggregated demand and economies of scale will be a key element in this.
The strategy sets out how the public sector will adopt cloud computing, virtualisation and colocation for achieving significant efficiency and energy savings. Guidance documents are now published for use by public sector organisations including information on best practice and lessons learned that will help organisations deliver efficiencies in these areas.
These will be supplemented with a catalogue of public sector data centres capable of providing capacity for other organisations, and a procurement framework of suppliers capable of providing the range of services to deliver on the vision, tendered through the OJEU process.
Organisations will transition to revised arrangements at different timescales and in different ways because organisations have different existing contractual arrangements. But it is important that the public sector delivers the change required and it will do so by adopting, with consistency, the following set of principles:
- Organisations review their current ICT data centre and hosting arrangements
- Cost of running data centres and hosting is known
- Utility and cloud computing is considered in assessing the appropriateness of current arrangements and future investment plans, and a shift to the cloud takes place when this is the most cost-effective option that delivers business requirements
- Co-location in existing world class data centres is considered where cloud options cannot meet business needs or are not cost-effective
- No new data centres should be built to meet the needs of an individual or small number of organisations with new centres only considered if, in line with principles 3 and 4, cloud or existing data centre options do not meet business needs.
- Organisations measure and continually improve on their data centres PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness).
Through promoting a consistent approach, the strategy’s roadmap will assist organisations to meet the vision. It provides a framework that enables organisations to consider what is important for them in identifying the most appropriate solution in implementing the strategy.
The vision in the strategy sets out essentially a “cloud first” approach and our guidance documents will help organisations understand using a common vocabulary the decisions that need to be taken and the steps they need to take to move forward in that direction.
Download and read our published cloud computing guidance.
We have also published draft guidance that we are now seeking feedback on
- Public sector data centre colocation
To find out more and provide any feedback
Contact email@example.com or visit the Scottish Government website.