The cloud community: adoption of the cloud in local government
Sharon Hobson of Riverbed explains why the key to justifying an investment in cloud technology is visibility of network performance
Six years ago, the Cabinet Office issued its ‘cloud first’ policy for the public sector. However, despite the best intentions, uptake of cloud technology has, until recently, been slower than expected in the majority of local councils.
This is changing. In the past two years, we have seen a steady increase in local authorities storing their data in the cloud. Indeed, a recent report from Eduserv found that in 2018, 62% of councils stored data in the cloud. This was up from 52% back in 2016. While the uptake is still slower than in commercial sectors, local authorities are steadily moving in one direction: the cloud.
As the private sector continues to raise consumer expectations with their cloud-native services and digital touchpoints, the public sector is chasing the pack. Local authorities have a responsibility to provide the best service to members of the public.
With so much pressure on local government, taking the leap to cloud can, however, be a difficult thing to justify to senior leadership without assurance of success. In addition, some decision makers will still be faced with hesitation to take the leap, even if they can prove success is possible. This is a result of a risk-averse culture in the public sector.
But changes have to be made to gain efficiency and to drive innovation. Therefore, IT stakeholders need to be able to justify the decision to move to the cloud with clear proof points of how benefits are being delivered to the citizen.
The single simplest means of gaining proof points of success lies in visibility. When making alterations to business-critical technology, tech stakeholders need to be able to monitor the state of their infrastructure. Being able to have a full view of how applications are performing, and where chokepoints are appearing in the network is invaluable to enabling a great digital experience through a time of change. It also enables IT stakeholders to benchmark where they are today, and what they will achieve through cloud and technology investments.
Navigating through the dark
Progressive public sector organisations are migrating to new technology to boost visibility and improve their ability to derive intelligence out of the huge amount of data flowing through their network. These authorities realise that by improving their visibility, it enables them to put measurements in place that understand and relate to the needs of the end user, as well as optimising the performance of their network. To put it simply, if you do not measure, you cannot manage – and neither is possible without visibility.
For local governments to stay in touch with the changing needs of the public, they must have a full view over their IT lifecycle and implement a constant process of measurement, assessment and optimisation. This will give IT leaders the governance to make the right decisions at the right time, support innovation, troubleshoot problems and have the transparency that will have a real impact for local constituents.
Ultimately, enabling visibility across the entire technology estate, IT teams are given a much-needed insurance policy when embarking on this kind of lift and shift. Not only from a measurement of success perspective, but also from a preventative standpoint if things start to go awry.
Beyond visibility, however, a cultural change is required too.
Risk versus reward
Any big shift to technology within a local authority has the potential to have a huge impact on members of the public, so failure is not an option. Potential downtime could leave local citizens unable to apply for critical services, or could be detrimental to employee productivity. As such, the risks of migration are causing local governments to hesitate in their jump to the cloud.
Even if local government organisations have a successful migration and transition to cloud-based technology, there are no guarantees that they can maintain a steady state afterwards. To move forward, IT stakeholders do not just need the assurance that their migration will be successful, but to also have the ability to effectively monitor and maintain their infrastructure afterwards.
Risk is not the only consideration. If tech stakeholders are unable to adequately prove the value of their new implementation with data, it is difficult to justify the spend to senior stakeholders, councillors, and ultimately citizens.
Both of these issues can be tackled with improved visibility across the IT estate. With network visibility, IT teams are provided with the autonomy to not only maintain their own network, but also proof points of the value they are bringing to the wider organisation. But first we need to switch on the lights. In doing so, the journey towards cloud for local authorities will be smoother, faster and more beneficial.
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