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Cloud First Adoption to Drive World Class Digital Government in Scotland

The Scottish Government has established a Cloud Centre of Excellence to encourage a Cloud First approach to Digital Transformation.

World Class Digital Government

A key observation and recommendation in the recent report from Audit Scotland is the need for inspiring exemplars of Cloud computing adoption:

“The Scottish Government needs to do more to put the right infrastructure in place to support change. Currently it is not leading by example in the use of cloud technologies, a key part of its strategy.”

This is a particularly illustrative point of the challenges facing the Scottish Government, as their Digital Economy plan defines it’s adoption as one of the key accelerators towards achieving the goal of becoming a world leading digital nation:

“Mandate the use of common platforms and infrastructure, including cloud hosting, as appropriate across the Scottish Government.”

“Make better use of cloud-based solutions as a source of both cost reduction and service innovation, and move public sector data hosting to a cloud environment wherever this is appropriate in terms of security and efficiency.”

It is a technology central to their digital transformation goals. For example this Scottish Parliament document on NHS technology innovation describes:

“The adoption of Cloud technology and Agile delivery methodologies through the digital transformation at NES has proven that the fundamentals of the UK & Scottish Government digital strategies, when fully adopted, deliver real and lasting transformation of services.”


“By fully adopting the Cloud first approach for applications and systems to deliver redesigned services in support of the Health & Social Care Delivery plan, the data that underpins all aspects of improved care and quality can be made accessible to whomever needs it, whenever they need it from wherever they need it.”

Cloud First best practices – Building a Scottish CCOE: Cloud Centre of Excellence

As they detail in this blog the Scottish Government is now developing a best practice community for Cloud First adoption in Scotland. As the name suggests a requirement that all new IT procurement opts first for a Cloud service if possible. It was first pioneered by the USA Govt in 2010 and is today recommended as the default starting point for CIOs.

They have established a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE), with aims of:

To help organisations across the Scottish public sector realise benefits associated with using cloud. Sharing best practice to support the delivery of cloud-based public services. Providing access to knowledge, key skills, cloud events, training, information and guidance.

This will provide thought leadership and guidance to Scottish Public Sector organisations as they plan, progress and manage their adoption of cloud services. They have identified the headline topics most in demand that they plan to cover through this group:

  • Cost management
  • SecDevOps & Automation
  • Security Architecture
  • Infrastructure-as-Code
  • Monitoring

They also polled attendees to determine where they are on their Cloud maturity journey, highlighting there is still a major wave of migrations required, and also that the major obstacle to overcome to achieve this is appropriate enhancement of staff skill levels.

As part of this they also identified the single most important factor in building a Cloud-centric public sector organization:

There was also widespread recognition that Non-ICT staff and Board-level stakeholders must be engaged to make it clear that cloud adoption was a business transformation, and not simply an IT transformation.

Cloud Framework

To enable nationwide adoption the Scottish Government recently launched their new national agreement for the provision of cloud services. It has a forecast value of £30 million, is a multi-supplier agreement and is open to all Scottish public sector organisations including the third sector.

As their blog describes the framework is intended to support and enable the overall digital strategy, with implementation building on their earlier 2014 Data Centre policy program.

The scope of the framework includes:

  • Public cloud (including access to hyper-scale public cloud)
  • Private cloud
  • Co-location
  • Hybrid cloud
  • Community cloud
  • Cloud transition services

Best Practices Adoption

As recently announced they have now also published a best practices guide for public sector Cloud adoption.

The Benefits of Cloud information will help stakeholders understand the many benefits of using pubic cloud services. It gives a high-level overview of the different aspects and uses of cloud, with the accompanying Cloud Primer offering an introduction, allowing staff from different parts of the organisation to take part in discussions about cloud, and includes seven Cloud Principles to guide organisations in using cloud appropriately and securely.

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