Hybrid cloud will be the future of UK public sector infrastructure, NetApp Freedom of Information research finds

New research from NetApp, a global cloud-led, data-centric software company, has found that a mixture of clouds and local infrastructure will continue to be the norm for the foreseeable future in the UK’s public sector. According to a freedom of information (FOI) request made to governmental departments, agencies, and public bodies, over half (53%) of respondent services are using hybrid infrastructure. This fact, along with the complexity of cloud services – with more than 38,000 potential services on offer* – and existing infrastructure demands, implies that realistic and sensible planning is necessary for an agile environment that unlocks the cloud’s full potential. Further modelling based on current public spending on IT infrastructure has found that a potential of at least £30 million per annum** of incremental savings could be made through continuous optimisation as the government refines its data strategy. 


Although the responses suggest notable progress toward cloud adoption, the majority of public service infrastructure is still on the premises, with more than two-thirds of services currently less than 50% cloud based. With 16% of respondents aiming to be fully cloud based in 3 years’ time, and petabytes (where 1PB is a million gigabytes) of data currently held on legacy systems, the inquiry suggests a hybrid environment for the foreseeable future. 


Tim Skinner, sales director of NetApp Public Sector,said”These findings definitively show that our public sector will continue to operate in a hybrid environment over the medium term. As the UK’s public services strive to get the best out of both worlds – cloud and on premises – they must focus on optimising and truly integrating these various environments with one another.  Not only can this drive significant cost savings and lay the foundations for delivering improved services, it will accelerate them in their journey towards the cloud.” 



UK government priorities and challenges 

When asked what the top priorities for cloud migration are and what public services must consider in their journey, 54% of respondents selected improved organisational agility. Agility in this case was described as “the ability to move data around and take advantage of new commercial or technological opportunities to optimise costs and improve services.” This need for smooth data portability and access is echoed by 46% of respondents, who selected “negating service interruption” as a key challenge for data strategy implementation. A further 32% highlighted the length of migration processes. 


Other notable priorities and challenges include 43% selecting operating-cost control and flexibility of service, and 32% prioritizing staying up to date with the latest technologies. NetApp’s own internal modelling suggests that with continuous optimisation the government could make incremental savings of more than £30 million per annum. 


Adrian Cooper, field CTO for NetApp Public Sector, said, “These findings demonstrate that progress has been made in realising the government’s Cloud First policy, but perhaps the hardest task is yet to come if the goals of the National Data Strategy are to be met. We recognise that the transition from complex legacy IT platforms to digital-first architectures will be a long-term endeavour, which is why we are working hard with our partners to build solutions which ‘bridge’ the old and new worlds. By creating a hybrid cloud data fabric rather than separate disconnected storage silos, public sector organisations can improve data mobility and sharing, reduce cloud consumption costs, and meet data compliance obligations.” 



Other notable findings 

·       37% of respondents selected culture change as one of the biggest challenges to overcome in implementing data strategies. 

·       Encouragingly, only 4% of respondents cited a lack of data strategy as a main challenge, suggesting a drive from senior leadership teams to implement cloud. 

·       There are instances where cloud simply isn’t an option or a right fit for public services: 

   o   9% of departments and services have targets of being only 10% cloud based in 3 years’ time. 

   o   At least two NHS Trusts currently have no plans to use the cloud. 


* Figure based on 2020 G-Cloud 12 tender. 

** Figure achieved by modelling infrastructure savings potential based on published spend in Digital Framework Contract Spend, published by Crown Commercial Services 2020 (see methodology for more). This is an estimation and is for illustrative purposes only. Actual savings are based on a number of wide-ranging factors and may differ from the amount stated in this release. 




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