Cloud computing in the public sector, January 2014


Author: Pearse Ryan

Pearse Ryan explores some of the key issues in the implementation of public sector cloud, in the light of the Edward Snowden leaks.

Cloud computing in the public sector is a hot topic and a topic not without controversy. Of itself, cloud computing brings up issues for customers to consider, whether in the public or private sector. Particular issues are accentuated when viewed through the prism of public sector bodies.

All of those issues were in the process of being worked through, albeit at a slow pace, when the recent Snowden revelations put the cat amongst the pigeons. We are all aware of the revelations in relation to mass data interception by the NSA, acting in conjunction with the national intelligence services of the so-called ‘five-eyes group’ and other western intelligence services.

There is no doubt that these rolling revelations have shaken confidence in the cloud computing industry and, in particular, by reference to the suspected ease with which certain large telecom and cloud based suppliers have facilitated national security agency mass interception of personal data.

In the EU, the Commission and Parliament have taken up the issue and there will likely be fall-out, potentially at the legislative level, in the potential short to medium term. It does seem clear that recent revelations will have an impact on both cloud suppliers and customers alike.

At local level, it is likely that Ireland will ultimately adopt a public sector cloud policy similar to that adopted in the UK. This essentially involves offering to public bodies, on a catalogue type basis, a range of mainly SaaS solutions hosted on a g-Cloud, a private government cloud or hybrid public/private cloud. There are good policy reasons for adopting this type of approach although it remains to be seen whether, given the (relatively) small scale of the Irish public sector by the standards by which the large cloud suppliers operate, this strategy will ultimately bear fruit. We are in the early days of development of an Irish g-Cloud.

Please click on this link for further information:

This article first appeared in Eolas Magazine on 16 January 2014 and is reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher.