Government adoption of public or hybrid cloud is still at least three years or more from becoming a reality in the Gulf region, according to analyst company Gartner.
A global survey of CIOs conducted by Gartner showed that many government organisations from outside the region are struggling with legacy systems and reduced budgets, which is in part leading them to adopt a ‘digital first' strategy, with hybrid cloud-sourcing now a reality for some US government departments. Gartner said that for a small minority of US government CIOs, cloud is now first choice for some projects.
The situation is unlikely to be mirrored in the Gulf anytime soon however, according to Biswajeet Mahapatra, research director, Gartner.
Despite a greater openness to innovation among government in the UAE, Saudi and Qatar, public cloud is unlikely to see much adoption in the region due to several factors, he said. Many governments still have the budgets to build their own data centres and host applications rather, and governments also have strong concerns about data privacy.
"Public cloud is generally not very acceptable by government. The other challenge for the government is that most of the data centres where public cloud is hosted is not within the region. But with the market growing we will see some local deployments of public cloud in the region, which would be good, but we should not expect governments to adopt public cloud in a big way. Hybrid cloud will come, but we are still very far off," Mahapatra said. "After we see good adoption of public cloud then we can talk of hybrid cloud. Not now, not at least till 2018."
In terms of spending priorities, GCC government organisations are broadly in line with the rest of the world, Mahapatra added, although there is greater emphasis on smart government, mobility and enterprise applications in the Gulf region than elsewhere. Despite the lesser degree of legacy issues, there are other hurdles for government IT organisations in the region, he added.
"GCC governments and especially in UAE, Saudi and Qatar have been always more open to innovation and ready to try new things. However the major constraints which governments face in this region with respect to innovation, is the availability of local talent with appropriate skills in new technologies. The other issue has been vendor support in this region. Many of these technologies are developed outside this region with implementation, services and support also based outside the region. Hence, the timeliness and quality of support from vendors and SIs has been a challenge in this region. However the good news is this has been changing over the years."
At a global level, Gartner believes that government CIOs need to switch to a citizen-centric view of services, and move away from being infrastructure providers and data centre operators to being a broker of services.
Rick Howard, research director at Gartner commented: "To demonstrate 'digital now, digital first' leadership in government, CIOs must flip their approach to managing IT from the inside-out perspective of legacy constraints to the outside-in view of citizen experience. It's all about starting with the digital world and what is possible - thinking cloud, mobile and situational context first - and then considering, 'How do we get there from here?' using information and technology."
"By shifting the management and provisioning of infrastructure to centralised government shared-service entities or to viable commercial vendors, government CIOs can lead by example and update IT management techniques to adopt the design-for-change mindset that is essential in the digital age," said Howard.
"In relatively short time, cloud has moved from a concept, to a possibility, to a viable option and, for a small minority of government CIOs, is now first choice when a project comes along."