A Framework for Analysing the Impact of Cloud Computing on Local Government in the UK

A Framework for Analysing the Impact of Cloud Computing on Local Government in the UK

Jeffrey Chang (London South Bank University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1879-4.ch017
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Cloud computing is hailed as the next-revolution of computing services. Although there is no precise definition, cloud computing refers to a scalable network infrastructure where consumers receive IT services such as software and data storage through the Internet like a utility on a subscription basis. With an increasing number of data centres hosted by large companies such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft cloud computing offers potential benefits including cost savings, simpler IT, and reduced energy consumption. Central government and local authorities, like commercial organisations, are considering cloud-based services. However, concerns are raised over issues such as security, access, data protection, and ownership. This paper develops a framework for analysing the likely impact of cloud computing on local government and suggests an agenda for research in this emerging area.
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The Concept Of Cloud Computing

Although there is no universally agreed definition of cloud computing the term refers to a computing service provided via internet connections, a service that can be scaled up and down. It can mean a storage service; or it can be seen as a platform or as a software service. According to a group of researchers at Gartner cloud computing has five key attributes: service-based, scalable and elastic, shared, metered by use and using Internet Technology (Plummer et al., 2009). Customers and providers of cloud services will consider any of above attributes or a combination of attributes to determine the expected services. Essentially it is a style of computing where IT capabilities are provided as a service delivered over the Internet to a customer’s workplace, similar to utilities like water and electricity which are ‘piped’ to the customer’s premises.

It can be argued that cloud computing evolves from and integrates a number of IT practices both private and public organisations have experienced over past years: outsourcing, software as service (SaaS), web-based storage etc. The development of cloud-based services has accelerated its pace in the last few years due to improved technologies and faster internet speed.

For service users cloud computing is an attractive alternative to building their own computing infrastructure, which can be cost efficient (Korri, 2009). The key advantages of cloud computing are held to be greatly reduced costs, increased efficiency and a significant reduction in energy consumption leading to cost savings and greener IT (Foster et al., 2008; Luis et al., 2008; Aymerich et al., 2009; Grossman, 2009; Korri, 2009; Maggiani, 2009; Nelson, 2009). In the Digital Britain (2009) report, the UK government sees the adoption of cloud computing as critical to the success of its plans to increase efficiency in the public sector and is working with various suppliers to develop a dedicated G-Cloud for the delivery of all government services.

In the private sector, concerns have been expressed both about the security of data management and loss of organisational control of a key resource (Buyya et al., 2009; Grossman, 2009). The confidential and sensitive nature of data stored in the public sector has made this issue particularly sensitive (Nelson, 2009). There is also concern about possible effects on employment caused by the introduction of centrally-run computer services. So far, in the public sector, there has been limited adoption of cloud computing.

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