Guest Blog:Why UK Needs Great Connectivity to Keep Pace with Mass Cloud Adoption

On the 16th March 2016 techUK launched its Cloud 2020 Vision which outlined what must be done to keep the UK at the forefront of cloud adoption. A key recommendation focused on the importance of the UK having a communications infrastructure that can keep pace with mass cloud adoption. On the eve of the anniversary of the Cloud 2020 Vision launch, techUK’s Head of Cloud, Data, Analytics & AI Sue Daley considers why having not just good but great connectivity remains vital to the UK realising the full opportunities of cloud computing.

“Cloud is fundamental to our digital future. It is fast becoming our primary means to store, process and manage the vast volumes of real-time data created through digital interactions. The ability to access and retrieve data held in the cloud on demand from anywhere regardless of the location is only possible by having a communications infrastructure that provides ubiquitous connectivity.

The good news is that the UK starts from a position of strength. Superfast broadband is now available to almost 90% of homes and small businesses across the UK and Ofcom’s European Broadband Scorecard recently ranked the UK highly in comparison to the EU5 regarding delivery, take-up and usage of broadband services. Globally, Huawei’s Global Connectivity Index ranked the UK 5th out of 50 countries for its accessibility and coverage as well as its investment in IOT and mobile infrastructure projects.

But is the communications infrastructure in the UK ready for mass cloud adoption by businesses, consumers and also the communications networks themselves?

According to a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses 55% of UK SMEs are already concerned about not being able to access cloud services when and where they need them. There is a concern that if users are unable to access cloud services, this could hold back UK organisations and consumers’ willingness to adopt and use cloud. Where there are gaps in connectivity these must be addressed urgently to avoid the emergence of a new digital divide, where metropolitan areas become hubs of cloud adoption while rural areas are left without the connectivity needed to access cloud services.

Having in place a reliable high speed, low latency and ubiquitous fixed and mobile communications infrastructure, that is not just good but great, is therefore essential to realising mass adoption and take up of cloud computing services across the whole of the UK. Government and industry must remain focused on pushing out superfast coverage to as near 100% of homes and businesses as possible.

Communications network providers themselves are also looking to increasingly host telecommunication services in the cloud. For example, applications, which are responsible for controlling and guaranteeing the delivery of telecommunications services. This move also require a resilient cloud computing ecosystem as telecommunications services themselves are increasingly being hosted in the cloud. As the very basis of telecommunications networks, traditional failure modes and procedures put in place to protect the UK’s communications infrastructure may need to be adapted as more of the core systems that make up the UK’s telephone and internet systems reside in the cloud. Additionally, if our communications network is not sufficiently supportive there is a threat to the resiliency of cloud services, which rely on a strong communications network to guarantee cloud access. Therefore, a thriving cloud computing market requires resilient, reliable, ubiquitous communications infrastructure; and the communications networks will increasingly rely on a resilient cloud ecosystem to deliver their products.

To ensure mass cloud adoption across the whole of the UK continued investment in communications infrastructure and supportive regulatory frameworks are vital. This requires a policy framework that maximises incentives to invest in the infrastructure, regulatory structures that reduce the associated business costs and burdens and an industrial environment that generates innovative technologies and business models.

Ongoing engagement is therefore needed between Government, industry, regulators, and cloud service providers to identify the connectivity, bandwidth, security and resilience requirements needed to support mass cloud adoption today but also in the future. techUK is working with its members to make this happen and on 11 January techUK’s Communications Infrastructure and Cloud, Big Data and Analytics Programmes have held a joint briefing session where speakers from QinetiQ, PwC, Ericsson, Memset and Agilis KLM discussed the importance of having a secure and resilient communications infrastructure to realising the mass adoption and take up of cloud computing.

Moving forward in 2017 techUK will be continuing to discuss these vital issues with our members and the important role great connectivity must play in ensuring we can keep the UK at the forefront of cloud adoption not just in Europe but globally.”

Blog by Sue Daley, techUK’s Head of Cloud, Data, Analytics & AI for techUK's "Good to Great Connectivity for the UK" Week.

Get involved at #ConnectedFuture. More information is available on techUK’s Communications Infrastructure Programme and Cloud, Data, Analytics & AI Programme.

Join techUK's workshop on Wednesday 3rd May which will focus on ‘What infrastructure and facilities does the UK need to pursue its spectrum resilience, innovation and policy objectives?

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