Public sector IT leaders expressed mixed feelings about the use of shared services and cloud computing at the SmartGov conference in London.
During a panel debate at the event, Merton Council’s director of transformation Chris Pope, said cloud computing and the prospect of the council being ‘infrastructure free’ made him "nervous".
"I do not trust the supply market yet," Pope said. "There is too much risk at this stage to be completely infrastructure free."
By contract, Hillingdon Council’s CIO Steve Palmer said he was hopeful that a lot of his infrastructure would disappear. "I’m not interested in running local data centres at all. I want us to be infrastructure free," he said.
Palmer acknowledged, however, that there were data protection challenges to be addressed. "It it is a big risk making sure data were are legally responsible for is being held responsibly."
Meanwhile, Pope has expressed doubts about the UK’s Public Sector Network (PSN) project, intended to provide shared networking servces to the whole of government.
"There is an issue here and that’s whether we believe that PSN will ever be delivered. I personally have my doubts," Pope said.
The panel’s remarks echoed the findings of a recent survey by IT analyst company Ovum, which found that roughly 50% of public sector CIOs in Europe are scetpical of shared services’ ability to deliver cost savings.