Cloud principles

Cloud principles for the Scottish public sector to guide beneficial decision making and behaviours when adopting and using cloud services.

Principle 1: Design for the cloud


Design your services to fit your chosen cloud deployment model. Do not heavily customise cloud services to fit legacy architectures or business processes.


The cloud can create an order of magnitude improvements in service performance, scalability, agility (ease of change), cost reduction, and security. However, you must architect services for the cloud to obtain these benefits.

Using an ‘on-premises’ architecture approach is a common anti-pattern which leads to sub-standard outcomes, missed opportunities and poor cost-effectiveness.

What does this mean?

  • to architect for the cloud effectively, your project team must include technical architects with strong experience and expertise in designing, deploying, managing and optimising cloud services
  • your development team must possess skills and experience in deploying workloads using cloud automation tools
  • you cannot focus on architecture and technology alone — business processes, organisational structure, platforms and architecture must align and evolve in concert
  • you need to define your desired business outcomes (faster delivery, increased cost-effectiveness, robust security, improved performance, ease of change, etc.)
  • software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service cloud models should be preferred unless there is a genuine and demonstrable reason to implement Infrastructure-as-a-Service

Digital Scotland Service Standards

Applying this principle helps you to meet the Digital Scotland Service Standards:

7. Iterate and improve frequently: modern cloud services incorporate continuous integration and delivery, allowing services to be iteratively improved using smaller, incremental updates on a more frequent basis

10. Choose the right tools and technology: cloud service pricing is consumption-based. Using cloud reduces the risk of selecting and testing technologies, as in most cases, no upfront capital expenditure is needed, and you can shut down unused services to terminate costs

13. Reliable service: hyper-scale cloud platforms are designed to be highly available and resilient to failure. Redundancy is built into the platform at every level


Cloud is sticky, don’t get stuck

Fear of cloud vendor lock-in is one of the most regularly cited concerns raised by organisations. Becoming entrenched with a cloud service provider can reduce your organisation’s ability to innovate, and to maintain or reduce the costs of delivering services.

Refer to the Government Digital Services (GDS) advice on vendor lock-in.

Configuration, not customisation

Configure cloud services, don’t customise them. The power of the public cloud is in the simple presentation of powerful, consumable services – continuously evolving building blocks upon which to build innovative new cloud services with minimal effort, cost and complexity.

Set the standard

Take a standards-based approach to technology and service design. By using standard software, services, protocols and formats you can increase the portability of your services, and reduce the risk of vendor lock-in.

What’s more, by following standards, you’ll unlock opportunities for simple data sharing and integration across the sector.

Digital Scotland Service Standard



Telephone: 0300 244 4000


Cloud First
Cloud and Digital Services Division
Area 1H South
Victoria Quay

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