Innovation and changeCloud ComputingIt’s high time to step into the cloud – and it needn’t be a leap of faith

It’s high time to step into the cloud – and it needn’t be a leap of faith

Sean Grimes, Managing Director of Cloud & IT Services at Agilisys, discusses why there’s never been a better moment for the UK public sector to seize the cloud opportunity

It was back in 2011 that the UK Cabinet Office outlined its Digital by Default agenda and “committed to the adoption of cloud computing [to] transform the public sector ICT estate”. In the intervening years, digital transformation has triggered an unprecedented rate of change.

Today, more agile, efficient and data-driven public services are in greater demand than ever before, due to rising citizen expectations and modern workforce requirements, as well as changing demographics and tighter financial constraints.

In the cloud, the UK public sector can deliver modernised digital services fit for the 21st century. At the same time, cloud adoption can drastically reduce public sector spending through mobile working, more effective and efficient services, property rationalisation, legacy system retirement, and more. Indeed, cost reduction is the primary driver for cloud adoption amongst almost two-thirds (64%) of public sector organisations.

As a result, International Data Corporation (IDC) now predicts that demand for public sector cloud-based IT services will increase by 22.8% this year, six times faster than the growth rate for the IT market as a whole.

What’s the hold up?

With the benefits of the cloud almost universally acknowledged, why are so many in the public sector holding back? More than a third of organisations (36%) have no plans whatsoever for cloud adoption.

For many, it’s a question of risk. Naturally enough, IT leaders can be fearful of the unknown. A “lift and shift” to the cloud may sound simple, but effective design, migration and management also demands new skills and, more importantly, a new mindset. With headlines regularly dominated by the latest data breaches, GDPR on the horizon, and the public sector under almost constant scrutiny, it can be tempting to put off change and avoid any chance of decisions going awry.

Even amongst the 41% of public sector organisations already using the cloud, concerns – and in some cases, misconceptions – around security, migration and on-going management are preventing them from reaping its full benefits. Partial cloud adoption isn’t enough. For those organisations who decide to keep critical IT services and workloads in-house – around half of cloud adopters – they are limiting the cost and flexibility gains they can achieve.

A path well-trodden

Today, reaping the greater cost and service benefits of a wholesale cloud migration needn’t be risky. With the right guidance, public sector organisations can make informed decisions that accelerate and streamline the cloud adoption, ultimately building an IT estate that can be managed more cost-effectively and securely.

By combining hyperscale cloud and specialist PSN services, public sector organisations can build a complete solution that leaves no legacy infrastructure behind – maximising cost-savings, agility, security and compliance. While this path is well-established, the most important factor in success is finding the right support.

Cloud adoption can indeed be risky if organisations manage migration in-house without sufficient time or transformation experience to make the right choices. Instead, organisations should consider support from cloud specialists, with the expertise to design the right solutions and minimise the time, cost and risks traditionally associated with complex IT transformation. These same partners should also be able to provide on-going cloud management and optimisation – removing the need for in-house cloud expertise, while also ensuring solutions stay secure, cost-effective, and in tune with requirements.

Seize the cloud

Those not embracing cloud adoption should remember that even this is a decision in itself – and it comes with consequences. Change is inevitable. Today, there are more mobile connections than people on the planet, three billion individuals are online, and we’re racing towards 25 billion connected ‘things’. Delay it and you put yourself, your organisation and the citizens you serve at a disadvantage.

Public sector organisations still relying on in-house skills to oversee racks and servers will find themselves steadily falling behind access and service quality expectations in the digital age. Issues such as shadow IT, technical debt and capacity shortfalls will begin to mount, as will the management costs for stranded legacy systems. When cloud transformation becomes impossible to put off, it will then need to be faced on much tighter timescales, under greater financial pressure and with no margin for error.

In contrast, those embracing the cloud today can start reaping cost-savings sooner, while also benefiting from more time to oversee successful transformation, as well as innovate with new capabilities.

Make the leap

If your organisation still views the cloud as a leap of faith, here are our top five tips for successful transformation:

  • Find the right partner:
    • Rely on experts with a holistic view of the cloud’s capabilities and domain expertise in local government, not specialist systems integrators or in-house teams with limited knowledge. The right partner should be able to orchestrate an ecosystem of delivery partners to create the right environment for your needs.
  • Build a clear vision:
    • Work with your expert partner to identify the right IT strategy and target operating model for your organisation, as well as build a fully-costed cloud business case.
  • Rationalise existing IT:
    • Ensure your existing IT systems are fit for purpose, correctly sized and still required to reduce the cost of cloud migration, while also making the process faster, safer and simpler to manage.
  • Avoid half measures:
    • Retaining critical systems in-house will significantly reduce long-term agility and cost-savings. Look for complete solutions that leave no legacy infrastructure behind, for instance co-locating specialist infrastructure that cannot be moved to the cloud.
  • Seek on-going support:
    • Expert management can increase the cloud’s value over the long-term: flexibly scaling services up or down, ensuring you only pay for what you need, and exploiting new cloud capabilities as they emerge.

Download our Public Sector cloud roadmap now to discover more about Agilisys and how we can support your cloud journey.

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