Scotland's Digital Future: Report on the current landscape for Data Hosting and Data Centres in the Scottish Public Sector

This report sets out the findings of a review of the public sector data centre landscape. The landscape review was the first phase of the project to deliver the data hosting and data centre strategy published in April 2014. The findings in this report ref

Section 2: Public Sector - Survey results


The survey, which was published via Survey Monkey, provided updated information from the surveys carried out in 2010 which informed the McClelland review on public sector ownership. The aims were to:

  • investigate organisations' views for sharing facilities
  • understand any perceived barriers to sharing
  • understand intentions in respect of use of the cloud

Key overall stats are below and individual sectoral positions are described in more detail in Annex D.

The general observation is that organisations have different approaches to meeting similar requirements.

The survey confirmed that, currently, Scottish public sector organisations house ICT systems in a number of locations each with a variety of facilities. These include mainframe and midrange platforms located in traditional purpose built data centre environments in both the public and private sectors, as well as other servers and communications equipment in less controlled or secure locations, including some office environments.

Sector responses to survey

sector sent received %returned
Central Government 55 35 63.64%
Local Government 32 17 53.13%
Fire Service* 1 1 100.00%
Police Service* 1 1 100.00%
Health* 1 1 100.00%
FE/ HE Universities 19 12 63.16%
Colleges** 42 1

* It should be noted that Fire/Police/Health responded out with the survey with an overview of their position.

** The 1 College response has not been included in the analysis.

Current situation on public sector owned data centres

data centre usage

Please describe all your data centre(s) and tier rating

Primary Data Centre Secondary Data Centre Third Data Centre
organisations who own their own data centres 78.5% 23% 9%
Tier rating of DC - One 10% 9.5% 25%
Tier rating of DC - two 49% 48.5% 0
Tier rating of DC - three 28% 29% 37.5%
Tier rating of DC - four 2% 0 0
Tier rating of DC unknown 11% 13% 37.5%
of those who own their own data centres how many measures energy consumption. 40% 60% 28%
of those who measure energy consumption how many measures PUE 19% 33% 0
PUE range rating 1.4 - 2.6 1.6 - 1.9 0

The number of organisations who responded and used an alternative to owning their own data centres

Primary Data Centre Secondary Data Centre Third Data Centre
organisations who used alternatives to owning their own data centres 21.5% 66% 17%
co-located in self-managed rack space from commercial supplier 1.5% 6% 1.5%
co-located in self-managed rack space with existing Public sector Organisation 3% 9% 3%
outsourced fully managed hosing service with commercial provider 3% 1.5% 3%
hosted cloud 0 1.5% 0
managed cloud computing 1.5% 1.5% 0
disaster recovery site 0 23% 0
Something else 9% 10% 0

Externally managed service

37% use an externally managed service for some of their data centre requirements with 80% of these providing 24/7 service . The main reasons for 24/7 service was around provision of web site functionality, business operations and were delivered as part of managed services.

Future plans for data centres

What are your plans for the delivery of data centre services in the future?

Not considering % 0 - 2 years % 3 - 4 years % 5+ years %
maintain and invest in existing data centre 28 48 10 14
build new data centre onsite 87 3 3 7
co-locate in self-managed rack space from commercial provider 77 12 8 3
co-locate with existing Public sector organisation 38 42 12 8
Outsource fully managed hosting service to commercial provider 79 15 3 3
hosted cloud computing 36 38 20 6
managed cloud computing 43 31 18 8
disaster recovery site 46 48 3 3

additional comments:

  • open to consider opportunities but have very little data of a significant risk level to warrant expensive solutions
  • we have already virtualised our servers, and consolidated our storage to enable mobility of our services and facilitate DR across our two main sites. Using internal cloud we are actively considering hosting options and taking up some services on external cloud, but currently bandwidth and costs mean this is not feasible. We expect SWAN to increase options available

How would you rate the following risks associated with sharing a data centre with another organisation?

Very low % Low % Acceptable % High % Very high %
security 10 14 36 22 19
capacity performance 10 15 41 25 9
scalability 12 24 36 25 3
financial 7 22 48 18 5
catastrophic loss 5 24 48 12 12
culture change 12 15 36 32 5
conflict of interest 5 24 25 37 9
travel between locations 5 12 61 19 3

additional comments:

  • all very much dependant on the organisation's set-up, capabilities and the agreed SLA
  • SWAN implementation should ease some of the concerns. Costs of hosting are a major concern
  • the data within our core line of business application is currently assessed as IL4 in aggregate
  • the risks depend on how the facility is managed
  • very much depends on the organisation, the system and the data centre in question
  • the communication links to our remote sites are very poor we would want to understand the impact to our network for a shared data centre
  • all the answers depend on the organisation and their on-site setup, and the costs that would arise

How would you rate the following benefits associated with sharing a data centre with another organisation

Very low % Low % Acceptable % High % Very high %
lower carbon footprint 2 12 27 49 10
disaster recovery 3 2 32 48 15
more flexibility 5 17 53 15 10
energy cost reduction 2 15 27 44 12
value for money 3 7 36 37 17

additional comments:

  • benefits of shared services from applications, staff & systems
  • cost/access/security/performance would be concerns

Would you consider hosting another data public sector organisations data centre in your facility? Yes/no

  • 62.5% would consider hosting

Would you consider co-locating with another public sector organisation? Yes/no

  • 81.5% would consider being hosted

additional comments:

  • subject to acceptable commercial/service terms
  • to move our services out completely would require significant assurances in terms of performance and convenience of access and recovery
  • cost/performance/security are the major issues
  • we would need to know in greater detail how any colocation agreement would operate and the facilities available before we could commit to using such services
  • blocker for us co-locating to another public sector organisation is the need for us to have the hosting organisation accept commercial risk
  • only the DR site would be co-located
  • not our facility but would be happy to join discussions about jointly using our facilities

If you had to co-locate what is the maximum travel time between your location and a shared data centre that you would accept?

Acceptable %
we cannot co-locate 9
less than 30 minutes 25
less than 1 hour 55
less than 3 hours 7
less than 5 hours 7

additional comments:

  • the distance is the dictating factor for DR
  • if the co-location offered a fully managed service this would be less important
  • to be honest I don't think there would be a huge amount of travelling between data centres
  • would be looking for fully hosted solution - 5 hours is fine
  • this would depend on the service level agreements internally and with the hosting organisation
  • it's less about travel time and more about the potential latency issues on applications such as hosted desktops
  • it should be irrelevant
  • onsite support would help, if only to power on / off systems etc.
  • most things are managed remotely now so do not always require access

Are you considering using the cloud? Yes/no

  • 72% of organisations are considering using the cloud

What services are you considering putting in the cloud?

Yes % No % Don't know %
business applications: ( CRM, email, etc.) 68 15 17
ICT management: (backups, disaster recovery etc.) 53 34 13
Infrastructure on-demand: (storage, network, server etc.) 51 21 28
collaboration applications 64 15 21
core business applications 28 49 23
legacy applications 13 57 30
research & development 30 30 40

Please comment on any other services you are considering:

  • already use a number of cloud based applications such as procurement, registration, web hosting etc. Have an open mind to cloud based services and look at each case on its merits
  • please define "cloud"
  • we already use cloud for some business applications. Considered when procuring new or replacement solutions
  • security is a key factor so will need further guidance on this
  • we have not fully explored as yet

What is stopping you moving data centre elements to the cloud?

yes no
lack of information 47% 53%
uncertainty of data privacy 87% 13%
existing infrastructure 73% 27%
ability to meet service level agreements 67% 33%
ease of transition 80% 20%
security and control of data 100% 0

Overall additional comments

  • procurement arrangements to support the use of public sector data centres need to be in place
  • as a relatively small user of IT we have a very simple solution at the moment. Very willing to consider shared services with others
  • consideration should be given to localised Dr / backup facilities shared between local public bodies e.g. Health Board and Local Authority to provide quick Business Continuity implementation
  • case studies on a range of organisation sizes looking at cost/benefits would be useful in understanding what is available to reuse
  • considering data needs of organisations with differing levels of reliance on that data is important - the high cost of resilient data centres often exceeds needs of an organisation
  • we would need to know how communication links would affect the sharing of data centres. Most of our remote sites are on islands with poor connection speeds
  • the survey questions don't really allow us to accurately reflect the current position. We are considering cloud and shared services but this is done in the context of selecting the correct approach for each specific requirement rather than a one size fits all approach
  • the survey makes assumptions that serious consideration has been given to data centre strategy at a local level; in the absence of a national strategy or any incentives to change this is a flawed assumption

Key points from the survey

  • most organisations have their own data centre to meet primary needs but 21% have found other solutions acceptable. The business cases that the latter group developed could have wider relevance
  • most data centre owners expect further investment in their own data centre within the next two years
  • other or additional options are being considered with a focus on public sector sharing and cloud solutions
  • many organisations do not have a clear view of current costs or energy efficiency making their comparison of solutions problematic
  • organisations require guidance on the use of cloud services
  • any use of a shared public sector service requires a SLA with explicit allocation of liability for service failure


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