Scottish government readies cloud platform to aid public sector take-up of AWS and Microsoft Azure

The Scottish Government Digital Directorate is launching its Cloud Platform Service (CPS), which aims to make it easier for the public sector to procure Amazon and Microsoft public cloud services.

Details about the CPS began emerging late last year with the publication of a request for information (RFI) by the Scottish government in October 2022 as it sought feedback from the market about how best to approach its plans to develop a “multi-tenanted public cloud service”.

“The Scottish government will seek to establish the Cloud Platform Service, as well as an effective cloud community, to support the Scottish public sector to make efficient, effective and secure use of cloud technologies,” the RFI document stated.

The Scottish government has since published follow-up documentation that shines a light on how its efforts to get the CPS up and running are progressing, which confirms that public cloud services from both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft are on course to be made available through it.

“Four programmes have been running on the Alpha AWS service since May 2022 and additional agencies are on-boarding,” the government stated in an online digital policy document.

It then goes on to say the AWS service was due to go live in August 2023, with Microsoft’s offerings expected to enter beta around the same time.

Computer Weekly contacted the Scottish government for clarification on whether it met its self-imposed  August 2023 delivery deadline, as details of a launch event – running in tandem with AWS – on the 19 September 2023 have since appeared online. At the time of writing, the Scottish government had not responded to Computer Weekly’s request for comment.

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The CPS roll-out is in support of the Scottish Government’s cloud-first policy, which was introduced in June 2020 in response to Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic prompting more of the Scottish public sector to adopt cloud services.

Similar to the UK government’s off-premise services procurement policy, Scottish public sector IT buyers are advised to take a public cloud first approach when building user-focused services.

“Our ‘cloud first’ approach means that public cloud will be the default delivery model for user-focused services,” said the Scottish government cloud-first policy document. “When introducing new services or updating existing ones, organisations will consider the use of public cloud services first, before other options.”

The policy document added: “We do not advocate a wholesale migration to cloud. While public cloud services will be the appropriate choice in most cases, organisations should evaluate alternatives in exceptional circumstances.”

The news that the CPS is being readied for launch comes at a time when the growing hold the hyperscale public cloud giants have on the UK government’s IT spending is coming under increased scrutiny.

This is on the back of concerns being raised about AWS being the number one supplier, in total spend terms, on the SME-friendly G-Cloud procurement framework, and the downturn in fortunes this has resulted in for some of the UK’s homegrown cloud provider firms.

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