Scotland’s public sector urged to move to the cloud

Scotland's public sector urged to move to the cloud

Public sector organisations across Scotland have been urged to embrace cloud solutions as a way of storing sensitive information, despite critics voicing concerns over hackers.

The Scottish Government has already moved a step close to implementing the move, advertising a contract worth up to £20 million to provide IT equipment capable of harnessing the capabilities of cloud technology.

If completed the deal would see government information stored by third parties, some of which may be situated thousands of miles away.

Public bodies in line for the change include health boards, colleges, courts and councils, with ministers claiming departments will be responsible for deciding how they use the new technology.

Describing cloud as a top priority, the government claims the cloud will help to save money, increase productivity and improve energy efficiency.

Dundee University is already set to save as much as £500,000 over the next few years having switched to a cloud-based emailing system.

The move has helped the institution cut costs associated with administration, maintenance and staffing.  

However, there have been fears that the switch to the cloud could increase the possibility of hackers accessing information through malicious attacks, while the need for an internet connection has also been seen as an issue for users in more remote locations.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has already backed calls for a public debate.

He said: "The government should be more sensitive to this really important area of controlling and storage of information. It affects everyone in their daily lives and there is great anxiety that the Government does not take this seriously enough."

However, the government will be well aware of the increases in security technology, as well as the ongoing BDUK scheme, which aims to extend superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017.

With the landscape becoming increasingly digital, the use of the cloud for public services may well be inevitable, particularly if it continues to be used successfully in the private sector.