Cloud computing case study: City of London

By Robert Jaques
12 May 2011 View Comments

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The City of London is responsible for the provision of local government services for one of the world's premier business and financial centres, Britain's famous 'Square Mile'. The organisation combines its ancient traditions and ceremonial functions with the role of a modern and efficient local authority, looking after the needs of its residents, businesses and over 320,000 people who come to work in its jurisdiction every day.

In addition to the usual services provided by a local authority such as housing, refuse collection, education, social services, environmental health and town planning, the City of London performs a number of very special functions. The organisation is committed to supporting and promoting the City as the world leader in international finance and business services through the policies it pursues and the high standard of services it provides.

Revamping IT services for TheCityUK

One such project saw the City of London recently provision cloud-based IT services for the independent, not-for-profit organisation, IFSL (International Financial Services London), which has since been rebranded TheCityUK. The organisation was created to promote the competitiveness of UK financial services both at home and abroad. In addition to its UK work promoting the Square Mile, it has a global export focus with a commitment to help British-based firms grow their business in other parts of the world. Its board is chaired by Stuart Popham, previously senior partner at law firm Clifford Chance. Sir Win Bischoff, chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, oversees TheCityUK's Advisory Council, while the president of the Advisory Council is the Lord Mayor.

TheCityUK, which has about 30 PC users, was having issues coping with the management overhead of on-site servers, software and infrastructure. As a result the organisation approached the City of London – which enjoys far more extensive IT expertise and resources – to help optimise the efficiency of its computing systems.

Adam Hand, senior messaging and intranet analyst for the City of London, explained that, when the project to optimise the TheCityUK's hardware and systems began, all its equipment was physically located in its offices, with an IT contractor in charge of local support and maintenance.

Sourcing solutions more efficiently

"As a corporation we were asked to investigate possibly taking on these services and providing a more cost-effective solution. Initially we went in there and assessed what was in place. They had Microsoft Exchange on site, a hosted file and print server, an anti-spam solution for email and antivirus technology. They had quite a lot of products that were quite expensive in terms of maintenance and licensing," Hand explained.

"We looked at the existing structure and tried to match the solutions to technologies that we could source more efficiently through the contracts that the City of London has in place, or by looking at a different approach such as cloud computing through Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS), Google Apps or Amazon S3."

According to Hand, it rapidly became apparent that the City of London could manage TheCityUK's IT systems more efficiency and cost effectively than the organisation could do in house.


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