Simon MacDowall, Managing Director, Cloud Operations, Civica discusses how public sector organisations can get more value from the cloud, by choosing the right operating model to approach cloud migration and overcoming implementation challenges
Over the past few years, many organisations have moved to a cloud-centric business model. In fact, according to a recent report around 40% of large UK businesses expect to run on cloud-only infrastructure by 2021. As the digital revolution continues to shape and change the way we work, moving away from legacy applications towards cloud is not only lowering costs, but also enabling the flexibility and scalability needed to deliver better, faster and more innovative public services.
However, with many different approaches and providers, it can be hard to know where to start with your cloud journey. First, organisations should begin by looking at the pros and cons of different cloud models, and identify what their organisation needs to be aware of when it comes to cloud migration.
From upgrading legacy systems to deploying cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions, it’s important to choose the right migration strategy for each application. Public service organisations are embracing migration from on-premise to private or public cloud, with a current trend towards a multi-cloud environment. In fact, our research shows 69% of organisations are now using these hybrid environments.
Be cloud smart: choose the model that suits you
If we look specifically at healthcare, for example, more and more organisations are opting for public cloud. This is because healthcare applications often have periods when they experience higher demand. With an old-style server in a data centre, teams would previously have needed to build the infrastructure to meet the capacity needed for peak demand, whereas public cloud can be scaled up and down as required.
Another clear benefit of public cloud is that it enables organisations to react more quickly to security breaches because of the magnitude of investment only these mega-providers can afford. This means risks are identified more quickly, and organisations have greater access to expert support to help stop a threat or an outage.
Despite this, some applications aren’t best suited to public cloud and therefore can sometimes trip organisations up. For example, some niche technologies might not be suitable for public cloud, or apps that have been built in a certain way might be better residing in a private data centre. As such, it is essential to do a proper assessment: not dogmatically pursue ‘cloud only’, but pragmatically be ‘cloud smart’.
Start with small steps
When approaching your cloud migration, being clear about what you’re setting out to achieve at each point is key to maximise the value. The following steps will help with building your approach:
- Assess the present – review your current IT estate, budgets, teams and understand the risks and opportunities
- Design the future – craft the strategy and plan that will enable you to deliver on your organisation’s and customers’ goals, including what’s best for public or private cloud
- Prioritise for impact – choose an approach suited to your needs, and prioritise your cloud roadmap based on what will deliver impact and value (fast)!
- Implement for outcomes – start small to secure early successes, demonstrate a return and help build further successes
- Improve continuously – optimise your IT landscape to continuously drive efficiency and adapt to your customers’ and organisation’s needs
Overcoming implementation challenges
With a squeeze on public service budgets, real-time spending cuts, and staff and skills shortages, it’s important to map out priorities and constraints from the outset of a cloud migration. Given that around 75% of organisations realise cloud savings within the first 12 months, it’s key to focus on early wins and remember that any initial investment should be quickly yielded back into the business.
There is no doubt that the cloud provides a solid foundation for new technologies, and greater levels of innovation that will benefit public service organisations and citizens alike. But with so many solutions to choose from and an already complex digital landscape, it’s key to approach migration strategically. Organisations that understand their constraints, have clearly established and agreed-upon objectives, and choose an approach that suits both employee needs and customer goals, are those that will harness the cloud’s full potential.
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