Cloud IT services are a relatively new type of IT, although the concept of “out-sourcing” IT has been established for a long time. Cloud IT services differ from standard out-sourcing by offering a high degree of flexibility, self-service, and often a minimum of human contact (the services are online; the customer registers; and within minutes is using the service). However, as this toolkit demonstrates the ease of use associated with cloud IT services does not necessarily imply any fitness for purpose. Even if it is not necessary or even possible to enter into contractual negotiations with a cloud service provider, it is a requirement that due diligence be undertaken to ensure that the cloud service is appropriate for the data used with the service. The assessment of a cloud service can be a time-consuming (and thus costly) activity. Therefore, we can expect to see the development of “brokering” services that undertake this assessment on our behalf with the purpose of providing a catalogue of “trusted” cloud services. The cloud brokerage market is relatively immature (reflecting the newness of cloud services generally). The University IT Services is likely to develop a cloud services brokering service in the future (e.g. via framework agreements with cloud service providers that address demand and meet requirements). In the meantime, the following brokers are worth investigating or keeping an eye on, with caveats.
Jisc Cloud. Jisc provide IT services and consultancy on behalf of the higher and further education sectors. The Jisc Cloud service provides a framework agreement to facilitate the purchase of cloud and data centre services by universities and colleges. Jisc also brokers access to data centre services and a number of enterprise services. For the most part, Jisc Cloud services are intended to be used by institutions rather than departments or individuals.
Government Digital Market Place. The Government Digital Market Place provides an online 'store' for the purchase of technology or consultancy within the public sector. The University of Oxford is eligible to use the Digital Market Place (A complete list of eligible organisations is available). The Market Place includes a large number of cloud service providers (over 19,000 distinct cloud services). Suppliers are listed in the Market Place if they have signed-up to the Government Cloud Framework (G-Cloud). All the cloud services included on the Digital Market Place are listed on the G-Cloud framework. It should be noted that the G-Cloud framework is primarily a commercial framework and purchasers via the Market Place are still expected to undertake their own due diligence. However, the G-Cloud framework makes the assessment process easier because the information provided about each supplier includes, for example, at-a-glance information about data storage, location (e.g. in the EU) and transmission (e.g. encryption or connection to Janet), a service definition and terms and conditions. (For example, see the entry for Amazon Glacier or Dropbox for Business.)