back to article UK councils refuse to push data into the cloud

The majority of the UK's local councils run two or more data centres each, suggesting cloudy adoption is still a long way off for local gov, according to Freedom of Information research. Requests sent to the UK's 100 largest local authorities revealed that two-thirds of councils run at least two bit barns and store 90 per cent …

  1. Ol'Peculier

    Why doesn't the LGA organise shared resources, including design, development and content management. Can't see the point in having 430 council web dev teams essentially produce the same thing.

    Unless one asks me for a job, in which case...*

    * I was given the contract to design the first website for a sizeable local council back in about 1999. I actually ended up binning it because they were the archetypal client from hell. Didn't have a clue what they wanted, just "they'd know when they saw it".

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Wasn't that what GDS and G-Cloud were for?

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        That's exactly what they're for, but they're a bit broken and nobody uses them.

        What annoys me is that councils seem ready to outsource their core functions (ie bin collections) at the drop of a hat but are unwilling to get someone else to look at things that they know nothing about.

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Because empire building

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      First sizable?

      https://web.archive.org/web/19980705004222/http://www.knowsley.gov.uk/

      1. JimC Silver badge

        Re: First sizable?

        Or even

        https://web.archive.org/web/19961119104338/http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/

        Don't think that was by any means the earliest either.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The problem lies with...

      ... senior managers.

      I recently worked with an LA and they had spent nigh on 1.5m doing an CRM install and integration, suffice to say the senior management in charge made all the wrong choices and the project is effectively a failure. Now add on the website redesign which was just shy of 250k and supposed to complement the CRM integration, you can probably guess how that went as well. A couple of examples of the bad choices made include not using the CRM module in the CMS for integration but instead spending vast amounts of money on a bespoke interface (which was a failure), excluding the web manager from the site redesign until the last minute (too many mistakes had already been made by then to recover the project to a healthy state).

      From what I hear the mistakes keep going, so I figure it must be about 2m now wasted on a bunch of sub standard or failed deliverables.

      Now there is an argument to take it all away from the local authorities and make it centrally managed but it that will be done by GDS then you'll get the same issues.

      1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: The problem lies with...

        I am struggling to identify the "problem". Is it that Eduserv aren't selling enough cloud services to local councils?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not like in the picture

    The problem for local councils and NHS etc. is that they have data that needs to be stored internally for legal reasons. That data needs to be stored in a resilient fashion, in our case on a geographically separated SAN.

    When you're already paying for SAN storage and virtualisation hardware there is no real benefit in also paying someone else to host services as the internal hosting cost becomes negligible when the hypervisor servers are licenced for unlimited VM's.

    And I bet their server rooms, or 'data centres' don't look anything like that picture!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not like in the picture

      yeah there not really DC's just good 'ol fashioned server rooms! I can't imagine local councils produce that much in the way of data. We've got something like 3Pb on site plus a 200 node grid engine and two small HPC's and our DC is only around 25 racks of which 20 are used. But it is a proper DC (small)although we quite often still call it the server room!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Local servers for local people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      they cost twelfty pounds!

  4. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Alternative possibility

    "Suppliers and Whitehall criticise this low take-up, believing resistance to change and low awareness are key reasons."

    Or that local government has had its budgets cut so severely in the last few years that, after decades of money being sucked back to the centre and grudgingly redistributed with political allegiances in mind, THEY'VE GOT NO FUCKING MONEY LEFT!

    Ahem. Pardon me.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Alternative possibility

      There is yet another "alternative possibility" in that the in - house DCs are new or newish, having been set up by decisions taken before the "cloud" became hip. It may also be that the DCs were provided under a PFI contract with contracted support being in place for a number of years.

      In either case why would a Council rush to spend money on cloud storage when they have an in - house DC the cost of which has not been amortised and / or for which contractual payments are scheduled for some years ahead?

      Paying twice for a single service doesn't sound like the brightest of financial ideas... even a councillor should be capable of spotting that one.

    2. Marc 25

      Re: Alternative possibility

      "Or that local government has had its budgets cut so severely in the last few years that, after decades of money being sucked back to the centre and grudgingly redistributed with political allegiances in mind, THEY'VE GOT NO FUCKING MONEY LEFT!"

      This...exactly this. The simple fact of the matter is that Private Clouds and SaaS is usually way more expensive in the long run. When you consider boring old 3 tier hardware, being run in a store cupboard by Admins that get paid a pittance (30% below private sector workers), cloud is vastly over expensive for the tiny budgets that the councils get given.

      I meet Council Admin staff every week all over this country and none of them, not one...gives a shit about paying over the odds to have someone else host their stuff (even if they could keep it safe and available).

  5. moiety

    Good. Local council data shouldn't be in the cloud and absolutely should not go offshore. So the problem is what exactly? Suppliers aren't being given enough money? I have a tiny violin around here somewhere...

    1. ritey

      I'm glad you said that. The only sensible statement that needs making on this subject.

  6. yoganmahew

    Bonkers

    They would be bonkers to have only one datacentre... DR and all that.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh Dear

    Just because someone has registered with a .gov.uk account doesn't mean that the Local Authority is using "the Cloud" or the Dropbox system.

    I think it assumes that Local Authorities have lots of revenue avalable to buy into these systems when they have had there budgets cut for the last few years.

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Pah!

    Just because central government want to keep giving our money to their friends for crap 'services' doesn't mean local councils should commit suicide by handing important data to untraceable repositories and bankrupting themselves for no visible benefit.

  9. Commswonk Silver badge

    And another thing...

    "By all means have in-house data processing, but councils should look at how they would use it as part of an array of cloud services rather than as a major processing centre for the bulk of their activities."

    This raises the matter of distinguishing between data processing and data storage. But to me (as a non - IT person even prior to retirement) the idea of an array of cloud services suggests that this approach would mean a far greater requirement for external connectivity, which of course would come with its own (additional) costs attached, and possibly even speed limitations.

    Furthermore, given the understandable delight with which major internet failures are reported in this esteemed organ, I would query the wisdom of any organisation placing reliance on external connectivity and cloud processing or storage for its day to day operations.

    I would expect any Council to be soundly castigated if it was forced to report "we were unable to do any work today" because a duff UPS miles away in another city (or even country) had broken the internet.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. eJ2095

    And in Sandwell

    We have moved over to office 365 and the cloud wonders off at least twice a week

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Because reasons

    Every authority has DropBox accounts (And Box.com and WeTransfer.com etc) because we have to deal with 3rd parties that insist on using these free services; often wholly inappropriately.

    The 3rd sector (IMHE) has little concept of Data Protection and even less of the GDPR and they use free and personal services to transfer personal sensitive information every day.

    Most authorities will be using Cloud to some small degree but procurement of these services in line with DPA and (looking forward) GDPR is tricky since many vendors have given little thought to anything other than hosting their wares on the cheapest platform available. They sell web services open to the world then look at you blankly when you ask them to demonstrate that the service is hardened against attack and adequately separated from other hosted customers.

    Cloud purveyors sell the dream of cheap universally available services to senior managers who then fail to consider resilience of connectivity or even if connectivity is present in the areas they will use the services.

    TBH things are improving but very slowly and certainly not with any help from GDS, G-Cloud or any other pork barrel project from Government.

  12. teebie

    The article seems to be written from the point of view that using cloud services is automatically good, like having backups or hashing passwords, with no consideration of the problems inherent in relying on the stability, security and trust models of the cloud vendor, and assuming local power cuts won't lead to BT cocking up everyone's connectivity two days running.

  13. Doogie Howser MD
    Joke

    Stinker

    "Services at Glasgow City Council were brought to a halt after a powerful blast of gas was released in its data centre"

    Beans for lunch?

  14. Proffesor Madhead

    Err Plans to centralise right next to the national crime database?

    i think that council data should be sovereign of the council for liability reasons.

  15. Noam
    Go

    There's another way

    We've been serving local governments in the United States and Japan with an on-premises as a service model. In our experience, this approach addresses the various concerns cited here regarding keeping data local, working within tight and changing budgets, and outsourcing storage expertise while maintaining data sovereignty.

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