Local government: The importance of remaining evergreen in processes and systems

local government evergreen, processes and systems
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Mat Clothier, CEO and Founder of Cloudhouse, discusses the importance of remaining evergreen in processes and systems

Product lifecycles are finite, and this was no more evident than from the news that Windows 10 will become end-of-life in 2025 and fully replaced by Windows 11, despite the original intention for Microsoft to make it the last edition of the operating system.

It’s a clear reflection of how technology is continuously changing and evolving, and organisations that refuse or are unable to budge will be those who end up being left behind, particularly with the news that Windows 11 is exclusively 64-bit, potentially creating issues for existing 32-bit applications.

This ever-revolving cycle of evolution has already been spinning for quite some time. The case of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 becoming end-of-life in 2020 is a perfect example of where organisations have faced challenges in being forced to either move on to costly Extended Security Updates (ESUs) or otherwise be faced with application incompatibility when moving to a new operating system.

This has then required a refactoring, rewrite, or full replacement of the critical app to ensure it can continue to be useful, creating disruption and inefficiency.

Battling risks in the sector

When it comes to public sector organisations such as local authorities, the challenges in keeping processes and systems up to date are compounded by additional issues. Local authorities in England for example are restricted from borrowing money to help finance day-to-day spending, limiting revenue streams to invest in internal systems. Losing pace with the treadmill of change entirely can even lead them to run outdated servers or operating systems without any security updates being applied.

This can lead to greater exposure to potential cyber-attacks. As many as 18% of UK public sector organisations suffered over 1000 cyber-attacks each in 2018, with 60% facing at least one. Additionally, depending on the severity of the attack, the organisation may not just suffer in terms of sensitive data being compromised, but also from comprehensive fines from regulatory bodies as a result, particularly with strict regulations in place around the security of data such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The pandemic has also created additional disruption and forced teams to prioritise other areas of the organisation, particularly as dispersed workforces have placed a strain on legacy systems and required changes that needed to be made at short notice. For many, this has involved a move away from on-premise to the cloud, which has created further challenges in terms of skillsets needed and getting the right talent into the organisation to manage internal processes.

Many organisations are still either working towards a move away from end-of-life systems such as Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 or are now doing so. However, the continuous cycle of operating system and server obsoletion means that they require a solution that can enable their processes and systems to remain evergreen, allowing them to adapt to changes in the future.

Keeping pace with technology changes

An incompatible legacy application on an updated system can be detrimental to public sector operations. It could manage a critical service such as benefits or healthcare, and any downtime could be detrimental to the public being served. The first port of call for organisations is to adopt a compatibility packaging solution that allows them to migrate critical legacy applications to newer systems.

The application can be added to an on-premise, hybrid, or cloud system, without any code modifications. Adopting this technology provides the immediate solution to legacy application issues, allowing public sector organisations to retain its value without any time-consuming or costly code changes. Security is also then maintained with the move to a new operating system.

However, planning for tomorrow is only the first step. While Windows 10 is fit for purpose today, it won’t be in the coming years, and it’s likely that its replacement, Windows 11, will also eventually become an end-of-life system. Public sector organisations need to adopt a solution that can capture external factors as they change.

Making use of the right platform can enable them to adopt a continuous improvement strategy, where the current estate can be analysed, out-of-date or non-compliant applications or processes can be identified, and compliance can be automatically achieved through the pursuance of best practice configuration. Historical data is also available to give organisations clarity of how a system has changed over time and where it may be heading in the future.

Being ready for future developments

If there’s one thing that’s for certain in the world of technology, it’s changed, and public sector bodies need to employ solutions that can successfully shift previously incompatible applications to new systems and importantly allow visibility of where future incompatibilities can arise. Over previous decades, the public sector has been forced to play catch-up with the private sector in terms of innovation.

It’s now time for organisations in the industry to employ the solutions and expertise of an external partner to ensure they can react to technological changes as they happen in the coming decades.


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