Neill Smith, Head of Infrastructure at The Scottish Government, on Nurturing Developer Creativity & the Power of True Multi-Cloud

Neill Smith’s list of accomplishments and expertise makes one think he was destined for leadership at a multinational tech giant. And the way he tells it, that’s how he saw his career going when he left university. What began as an entry-level job in government turned into an environment with the freedom and space for innovation he craved. Now, he uses his unique blend of technological nous and people skills to lead a team of skilled and ambitious civil servants.

A trailblazing Head of Infrastructure at The Scottish Government, Neill is making waves through his progressive implementations and management style. A Scottish Government employee for 23 years, Neill has found that autonomy to explore solutions and an appetite for progress have created an environment where his team can innovate and upskill with freedom. A fierce protection of his team from red tape and a willingness to expand his knowledge through conferences, vendor trials, and encouraged creativity have seen him and his team of “geniuses”, as he refers to them, rack up the wins at an astounding rate.

Neill and his geniuses create and automate on a loop, ensuring that no work that can be automated is ever repeated, leading them to be the first Scottish Government entity to run an end-to-end serverless solution in 2017. They also mitigate high-demand skills acquisition slowing down progress by prioritising upskilling, and expertly manage their vendor relationships, building trust first, to ensure they get the most possible benefit. This all led to Portworx by Pure Storage providing the Scottish Government with a Kubernetes storage platform that enabled them to not be beholden to any hyperscaler cloud provider. Neill and his team are innovating and saving the government and the people of Scotland money simultaneously.

Listen in for more insights from inside the Scottish Government’s modern IT function:
[08:33] – Giving his team the space to innovate away from red tape
[15:15] – The Scottish Government’s journey to multi-cloud
[17:43] – An analogy for selling multi cloud to civil servants
[18:54] – The power of moving workloads at speed
[23:59] – The value of establishing a trusting vendor relationship
[25:19] – Why proof of concept trumps a magic quadrant
[32:47] – The meaning of true multi-cloud and benefits of technological agnosticism

The full podcast is available now on all major streaming services, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more.

It’s extremely difficult to get skills for even one hyperscale cloud provider… but in reality, if you make [your infrastructure] as agnostic as possible within a containerised approach, it becomes a moot point because then it doesn’t matter what it sits on.

Neill Smith,
Head of Infrastructure,
The Scottish Government

Neill Smith
Head of Infrastructure,
The Scottish Government

Neill Smith is the Head of Infrastructure for the Scottish Government, with 23 years of experience guiding them to the cutting edge and maintaining remarkable innovative output. He’s an AWS re:invent speaker, a Gartner – IT Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit speaker, and a VMworld speaker, among others. All to the benefit of the people of Scotland.



Craig McCartney
Managing Director,
Chief Nation

Welcome to The Show, a new peer-to-peer podcast series where we’ll be talking to influential thought leaders about how tech is continuing to change the way the world does business.

The Show is brought to you by host Craig McCartney. Each week, we’ll be interviewing major thought and industry leaders to learn how they are embracing new technologies and strategies to create new value and success for their companies. Find us on all major podcast streaming platforms.