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In March 2011, when the UK government first published its Government Cloud Strategy document, it became clear that cloud had emerged from the sidelines and made it into the mainstream.

Over the last few years, the UK government has made efforts to put technology innovation at the heart of public sector, whether through its Digital By Default campaign or modernizing public sector IT infrastructure through the G-Cloud initiative. The latter won’t be an easy task as, unlike most enterprise infrastructure, the public sector is not a monolithic entity – it is composed of myriads of different departments and organizations that keep the UK’s pulse ticking. Its infrastructure has grown over decades to meet the technology needs of its users, morphing into a multi-headed hydra constantly demanding service. It is costly to run, not to mention inflexible. However with the G-Cloud program, the UK government is moving in the right direction and has found the weapon that can help to tame this beast. Cloud-based technologies can help the government achieve large, cross-department economies of scale with systems that are more flexible and, most importantly, more cost-effective.

We believe that the key to the success of this G-Cloud program is selecting the right kind of cloud architecture. This decision will have impact on everything for decades to come. The choice will determine government IT systems’ flexibility and economics for the next decade.

Red Hat is a proponent of an open approach to cloud computing. Open source and open clouds are the keys to delivering exceptional value and provide effective service in today's fast-changing, connected, social and mobile world. With an open cloud, individual government departments can be in control and can bring the benefits of cloud to the broadest range of their IT resources; including physical, virtual and choice of public clouds.

An open cloud approach also offers true interoperability by allowing departments and organizations to build on existing components and to use best-of-breed tools for cloud enablement. Unlike proprietary offerings, the goal is not to lock-in a user to a particular technology but to provision functionality and capacity where required.

Red Hat already works with UK government bodies such as Transport for London (TfL), which has consolidated its infrastructure with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and achieved operational savings of up to 80 percent over its previous proprietary-based software infrastructure deployments. In addition to this, these customers are also experiencing improved security, true open standards and innovation in service delivery and staff development.

The G-Cloud initiative is an important step in truly unlocking the UK Government from the chains of proprietary vendor lock-in with the potential to not only save the tax payer from long-term contractual obligations, but also encourage innovation in an area that often struggles to demonstrate value for money.

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