Having recently joined Arcus from a District Council, I can see very clearly the benefits that cloud computing, whether software or infrastructure, can have on most public sector organisations. Here are my top five reasons why councils should be looking to the cloud for their ICT future.1 ) Cost Every organisation is feeling the effect of the difficult financial times we are in. Budgets are cut, but at the same time customers or residents expect an even better service. The council buzz phrase for this is ‘do more with less’. But can you really do more with less money? The answer is yes, but only if you change your whole way of working. By switching to a cloud based infrastructure you eliminate the cost of servers, temperature controlled server rooms, electricity to power the server room, on-going component upgrades, etc. I could go on, but already you get the idea. There are realistic total cost savings of up to 80% by switching to the cloud, a cost saving that should not be ignored. 2 ) Less resources While redundancy is uncommon, it does happen and is indeed happening in many public sector organisations across the Country. In my experience, it is usually the ICT department that experiences the first of these cuts because unfortunately, no one else in the organisation really understands the important work their ICT team does. If you are lucky enough to avoid redundancy, often you will find that as people leave for a new job or retire they are no longer replaced. The organisation sees this as a nice easy cashable saving without having to make dreaded redundancies. Either way, you are down a team member, but are somehow expected to provide a better service. Using the cloud means that you no longer have servers to maintain and repair, this in turn frees up the time you would have spent on server maintenance to do other things like improving your service to customers. 3 ) Increased Capacity Have you even been in that awful position where your server’s hard drive is full and it is a case of either deleting data or waiting for a new hard drive to arrive, which then needs installing? Well that is one of the benefits of cloud computing, you have unlimited hard drive space at your disposal. Should you need more space, click a button, upgrade your cloud package and you have the space you need. The same applies to the speed or memory size of your cloud server. All of this can be changed instantly and from wherever in the world you are when the problem arises. 4 ) Minimal downtime A large part of server maintenance is the back-up process. Backing up your data and storing it somewhere else, so that should the worst happen, it can all be recovered. This is time consuming and costly. With cloud computing, your data and products are all backed up automatically. You no longer need to manage the process as it is all included in your service agreement. If your server goes down, invariably this means someone trying to diagnose the problem and then waiting for the necessary parts to fix it, presuming it can even be fixed. All of this takes time and I know from experience that this can mean a service is down for days. Not something that makes your residents very happy. With a cloud based infrastructure, if something goes wrong with your server, everything is simply copied over to another server and you are back up and running in minimal time. 5 ) Mobile access By using cloud based applications, you can access your own software and data anywhere in the world. Many Councils use a VPN, meaning you have to go through a sophisticated login process to get to your computer and then open the application you need to access your data. If your data connection is unreliable, using the VPN can be extremely frustrating as you have to repeatedly go through a complex login process. With cloud based applications it is as easy as checking your email, you can login to your system and see your data immediately. By going one step further and using a PaaS approach, your applications will all work natively on mobile devices, saving you significant development time and ensuring your organisation is truly mobile.