The One Public Estate programme: A catalyst for public sector cloud adoption


In 2016, the One Public Estate programme will see 100 councils receive £31 million of funding in order to help them make better use of public sector property.

The idea is that local public sector bodies – from neighbouring councils to emergency services – start disposing of, or sharing, buildings in order to reduce running costs, free up property/land for redevelopment and raise money.

In a sector where money is scarce, one of the most compelling areas for potential cost savings is to close down public sector owned datacentres; an IT estate that runs on datacentres sited in council buildings is expensive for a number of reasons. Not only do they take up space – often in expensive city centre locations – that could be used for higher value activities, they also require a significant overhead cost to maintain them effectively.

Moving to third party cloud services providers, perhaps via colocation as a ‘staging’ point, frees up space whilst reducing the need for in-house teams to ‘keep the lights on’. It also allows organisations to clean up their balance sheets, remove the need for capital investment and move IT spend to a ’pay as you use’ operating expense.

The second business reason for moving to an external provider is to create an IT estate that’s suitable for the immediate digital transformation challenges and is also flexible enough to accommodate further changes which will inevitably lie ahead. An external partner can provide cloud infrastructure that scales up and down with the needs of the organisation, keeps data secure and in an environment where information can be shared by a range of partners who need to work together to plan and deliver public services.

The final reason for moving to an external provider is the opportunity to reshape in-house council IT teams to better meet the future needs of the organisation. This is a future that moves away from the old model of an in-house team that builds and operates an IT estate to one that is a service integration and management team that partners with providers to solve business problems, enable change and provide a platform strategic roadmap to support new service delivery in the longer term.

One Public Estate is an important agenda for local government in 2016 and, whether a council is in receipt of the OPE funding or not, one which provides a strong business rationale for IT teams to make their own case for moving their organisation’s IT  infrastructure away from in-house to an external provider.