Scotland's Digital Future: Data Hosting and Data Centre Strategy for the Scottish Public Sector

The data hosting and data centre strategy sets the vision that Scotland’s public sector data hosting is cost-effective, carbon neutral and makes appropriate use of cloud technology, for the delivery of efficient and highly available ICT services.


Scotland's Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services set out an objective of developing a national strategy for the public sector's data storage focusing on consolidation and re-use. This reflected a recommendation of the Review of ICT Infrastructure in the Public Sector in Scotland report by John McClelland which suggested that significant efficiency and energy savings could be achieved through consolidation.

Traditionally a data centre is a large purpose-built facility which provides a secure and controlled environment that is necessary to support the operation of an organisation's ICT equipment that stores, processes and transmits its information. For the purposes of this strategy, the term data centre is used to cover any dedicated computer room or facility which is used to house operational ICT equipment and systems. This ICT equipment typically includes networking systems (switches, routers), servers and processing equipment, and storage systems (tape and disk).

The successful delivery of digital public services is dependent upon ICT. As the roll out of Digital Services proceeds and the dependency on access to information becomes more critical to the way Government bodies do business and make information available, the rising demand for ICT to be available at all times increases.

Most existing data centres used in the public sector are not capable, without significant investment, of meeting this demand for increased capacity and reliability. Meanwhile, we are seeing development of cloud computing, which is increasingly suited to public sector requirements, for example in terms of scalability and security.

A series of studies have been undertaken to understand the current and future requirements of organisations and it is clear from the findings that as technology has moved on, the public sector in Scotland needs to prioritise cloud computing virtualisation and consolidation to deliver on future requirements.

Through the analysis of the use of data centres throughout the public sector in Scotland we have identified that most do not proactively measure their energy consumption or understand the total cost of running their data hosting facilities. ICT industry financial analysis indicates that power consumption can account for a third of the cost of running such a facility.

The strategy therefor sets the direction and principles against which organisations will shift to service consumption, and cloud provision and away from an individual silo approach by using aggregated demand and economies of scale. It provides guidance and will continue to do so as implementation is progressed and lessons are learned.

The strategy sets out how the public sector will adopt the following approaches for achieving significant efficiency and energy savings: cloud computing, virtualisation and co-location.

CLOUD- Cloud computing is a model for enabling universal, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of resources that can be rapidly deployed and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. Cloud computing offers numerous advantages both to end users and businesses of all sizes in terms of scalability, reduction in the requirement to support the infrastructure or the knowledge necessary to develop and maintain the infrastructure, development environment or application. The 3 dominant forms of deployment of cloud computing are Public Cloud, Private Cloud, which can include the concept of Community Cloud and Hybrid Cloud. Further information on cloud is set out in Annex A.

VIRTUALISATION- By using virtualisation technologies, applications can be consolidated onto fewer physical systems but can still be deployed in their own operating system environment. In doing so it is important to consider the licensing arrangements and the impact that virtualisation may have on these. See Annex B for further information.

CO-LOCATION- allows a business to own their own server equipment; and rent space in a co-location hosting centre owned by another organisation. It is clear from surveys that there is space available across the public sector and private sector data centres located in Scotland . As a priority organisations must make use of those data centres that meet environmental standards, classification and security standards consistent with world class data centres. Annex G provides further information on co-location, and Annex E describes the standards that will apply.

The public sector's High Level Operating Framework sets out the high level principles for delivering ICT in the public sector. This data centre strategy is aligned with the principles of this Framework. We will develop the Framework with standards for data hosting and data centres.


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