Stepping Stones Into The Cloud

Director of Public Sector Andy Riley explains what local governments should focus on to realise the full benefits of cloud technology implementation

Whenever I speak to local government IT teams, one thing is clear – they absolutely understand that moving to cloud is a ‘no-brainer’. They’ve seen the benefits of central government organisations adopting the “Cloud First” directive since it came into force seven years ago. There is an 88% cloud adoption rate in the UK, with 67% of those users expecting to increase their adoption of cloud services in the near future.1

They also completely get that cloud enables them to meet the ever-increasing expectations of digitally-savvy citizens, who now expect the same seamless experience they get from the likes of online retailers and travel booking sites when interacting with any local government service.

“But Andy”, they cry, “We have to provide a more diverse and complex set of services and functions in comparison to our central government colleagues! Their focus is on providing a singular service, while we have to deal with up to 50 IT vendors. It’s harder for us!”

They’re right of course, but my advice to them is always the same. Small steps, not giant leaps. The first of these steps is to consolidate communications systems into the cloud. For some, understandably, this feels like a huge leap into the unknown, but there is a halfway house from which they will still realise demonstrable benefits. If they aren’t quite ready to transition entirely from their existing legacy, on-premise infrastructure, they overlay a cloud solution and get the best of both worlds. The stress here is that it is you who is driving this migration in your own time; you that remains in control – which is important.

So what are the benefits?

Let’s start with the commercial advantages. These are continually being challenged to deliver value from reducing funds on the one hand, whilst meeting the digital demands of citizens on the other. Flexible commercial deployment options exist to enable them to cut their cloth accordingly to meet their budget requirements.

And then there’s the benefit to employees. In my experience, providing workforces with the collaboration tools to quickly and easily interact with each other and to work from whatever location is imperative – and to connect using their own, preferred device is a win-win. It means that as they don’t need to travel as much, local government gets to do its bit for the planet too! Tell Greta!

And then there’s the thorny issue of security – always a concern. So choosing a solution that is PSN-accredited, and designed and implemented around CESG Cloud Security Principles to fully comply with government security obligations, will provide complete peace of mind.

The concerns about surrounding a move to the cloud are valid, but by approaching it in a step by step way, you can mitigate these and reap the benefits quicker. Reduce costs, meet expectations and engage your employees.

And start with your communications infrastructure.

1  CIF Cloud Industry Report 2018

This article first appeared in Public Sector Focus Magazine Jan/Feb 2020