Sunday 20 May 2018

Government rains on Microsoft cloud hopes

'The company employs 1,800 people in Ireland and will shortly complete a €134m investment in the new Microsoft campus in Leopardstown.' Photo: Bloomberg
'The company employs 1,800 people in Ireland and will shortly complete a €134m investment in the new Microsoft campus in Leopardstown.' Photo: Bloomberg
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

The Government is resisting calls from Microsoft for Ireland to become 'a global leader' in cloud-based technology by moving central public services onto a cloud-based system.

According to documents released to the Sunday Independent, officials have concerns over the risks associated with allowing a public cloud system to underpin key government operations.

It also emerged in documents released under Freedom of Information that the Government may build its own cloud-based data-services centre. While this would allow the state to keep more control over digital information, the costs would run into hundreds of millions of euro.

Documents relating to a meeting between Peggy Johnson, executive vice-president of business development at the tech giant, and former Taoiseach Enda Kenny show that Johnson urged the Government to "at a minimum" consider a hybrid system for such a data centre, incorporating public cloud offerings.

In briefing notes prepared for the then Taoiseach, it states that Microsoft ceo Satya Nadella may "express surprise" at Ireland's reticence to use cloud models for delivery of services. In the same paragraph it is noted that under his leadership, Microsoft is rapidly being redefined as a cloud-services business. The company employs 1,800 people in Ireland and will shortly complete a €134m investment in the new Microsoft campus in Leopardstown.

It was flagged ahead of the meeting with Johnson that she would be expected to discuss opportunities for the Government to lead on cloud adoption. However, the notes state there is a "strong preference for onsite hosting".

After the meeting, a senior official suggests a follow-up letter give some comfort to Johnson but be "as direct as possible".

In a statement to the Sunday Independent the company said: "Microsoft works with government on a regular basis to discuss and engage on the transformative potential of cloud.

"There is a huge opportunity for the Irish Government to position Ireland as a global leader in cloud computing by leveraging the investments and expertise that are already here through multinational data centre investments, and by tapping into them to help drive innovation and efficiency gains."

Sunday Indo Business

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