Windsor Castle

The CIO at Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) has claimed it will be the first UK local authority to move to an entirely cloud-based infrastructure, and spent just £100,000 setting it up.

"We've done a full cloud implementation in 14 months. 98% of the work is done," CIO Rocco Leballarte told attendees at the Eduserv Cloud Summit held in Westminster last month.

He said: "We'll have everybody signed up on July 1. We've delivered thin client, virtualisation, wireless connectivity, packaged apps in the cloud, built cloud infrastructures and tested moving stuff across.

"We have delivered cloud for £100,000 and we have set up two hosted data centres without spending a penny. We made zero capital investment, took the G-Cloud offering and negotiated hard.

"I could have spent 10 times as much money, had I not had people working for me that told me what to do. It is such a vast and complex world, one person or company can't hold all the knowledge and all the decisions."

The authority is using a mix of solutions from Microsoft, Amazon and, plus other providers. It has also bought services through the G-Cloud Cloudstore.

According to Leballarte, they are now looking at moving their telephony to cloud and starting the process of application rationalisation.

Levelling the playing field

He emphasised the importance of broadening the public sector's access to a wider pool of technology suppliers.

He said: "We absolutely need more choice not less. In the absence of choice, you have a price monopoly. Anything that creates a broader, more open market has to be a good thing. Both a combination of choice and transparency of cost, that's what you want."

Labellarte said that RBWM will be the first local authority in the UK to have fully replaced its IT infrastructure with cloud computing solutions. However, he warned that most councils are lagging behind in terms of their cloud adoption.

He said: "Not many organisations have fully implemented cloud yet. Most have just gone for low-hanging fruit. To be fair, we're still not quite mature enough in terms of supplier and consultancy relationships."

The 'cloud' doesn't exist

Labellarte argued that people should avoid obsessing over the term 'cloud'. He said: "There is no such thing as cloud; what is cloud? It means many things to many people.

"Change the phrase cloud. The cloud doesn't really exist. Call it commodity computing or next generation technology."

Labellarte gave some words of advice to organisations hoping to make the move to cloud infrastructure.

"We've learnt a few lessons along the way," he said. "For example, an ageing infrastructure really helps to make the case financially. In-house expertise is worth its weight in gold and is less expensive - you need to have skills in-house to challenge those providing the services and do integration. And the biggest changes are invariably cultural and behavioural."

Government CTO Liam Maxwell was councillor with responsibility for IT policy at the same borough.

Leballarte said: "It was during his tenure [from 2007 to 2011] they set out thinking about cloud. Their strategy from five or six years ago is what I'm doing now. We're not just thinking about cloud now. We've gone and implemented it."