Results of a recent survey of IT professionals in the public sector highlighted the drive toward cloud and virtualisation technologies. Cloud-hosted applications and services are now being widely considered across public sector organisations, with 57 per cent of respondents evaluating these approaches. The economic climate is one of the drivers behind these results, with 66 per cent of respondents stating the biggest influence on their IT decision making over the next year will be the need to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

Only 22 per cent have actually deployed cloud technologies. Virtualisation solutions have proved to be popular with public sector organisations with 67 per cent of respondents deploying server virtualisation to reduce their IT costs and consolidate physical hardware. Other virtualisation technologies are also being looked at: a further 28 per cent of respondents are deploying application or desktop virtualisation, and a combined 49 per cent are evaluating these technologies.

Based on this survey, the downturn is having a maintained effect on many organisations and their approach to IT spending. Organisations are considering their approach to how they source their IT requirements more carefully, and approaches based on cloud-hosted applications or shared services models are being implemented to meet the challenges of reduced budgets.

The report by Philip Green into public sector procurement shows that how services and IT assets are bought can vary wildly depending on the approach taken. From this survey, the process of looking at procurement methods is already well underway within public sector IT functions.

The impact of reduced or static IT budgets is also being seen in how future IT projects are being planned. When asked, ‘How are you likely to approach your IT projects over the next 12-18 months?’ 40 per cent of respondents stated they will be undertaking bite-sized projects that deliver value quickly, and 20 per cent said they will hold to any new investment, and instead focus on optimising their existing infrastructure instead.