Government policy-makers need to up their game and work harder in order to create a level playing field for Cloud services adoption, according to global findings from Ovum.
"The logic of government Cloud computing policy usually starts with the implicit assumption that Cloud services are risky, ill-defined and unproven," Ovum research director, Steve Hodgkinson, said. "Cloud services adoption in government faces resistance caused by procedural, organizational and cultural inertia."
While Cloud services policies are being developed and iterated in all jurisdictions, Ovum said policy-makers need to be mindful of the potential type I and type II procurement errors.
Hodgkinson said government services policies tend to be biased toward avoiding type I errors (i.e. the risk of buying a "bad" Cloud service), which means that even the policies that are well-intended, the playing field is tilted against Cloud services.
However, he said type II errors (i.e. the risk of buying or persisting with a "bad" in-house, shared or outsourced service when a Cloud service would have been better) can create worse outcomes, leading to missed or delayed opportunities for productivity improvement and innovation in policy and service delivery.
Hodgkinson offered up key pointers to help policy-makers question their assumptions and strengthen government cloud services policy.
"The first thing to be clear about is that there is no such thing as 'the Cloud'. This fluffy notion has no place in government ICT policy thinking. Policy should refer to a 'Cloud service' -- a tangible service delivered on a professional basis by a trustworthy external service provider. Cloud services are just shared services that work," he said.
He said policy-makers should recognise that Cloud computing and Cloud services are different things. "Cloud computing is the suite of technology innovations, including scalable infrastructure, virtualisation, automation, self-service provisioning portals and multi-tenant architectures used by a service provider to build and deliver a Cloud service.
A Cloud service is an established bundle of processes, people, organization and technology which has been assembled and refined to deliver a well-defined and trustworthy shared service to many customers."
He suggested a government Cloud services policy should aim to show the potential "transformational benefits of Cloud services" while also being mindful of the practical and long-term costs to government of both type 1 and type 11 procurement errors.