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February 23, 2017
As the public sector takes to the cloud, migration planning will be key
By: Simon Mitchell

As discussed in my last blog, we’re entering a new phase in public sector IT. The Cabinet Office now wants Government departments to buy services utilising the public. This has coincided with a move away from the Public Services Network (PSN) to more broadly adopting the internet. The security misperceptions that once plagued the public cloud have been embraced and mitigated, and the message is getting out that “On balance,” well-engineered SaaS and public cloud is better for security than the alternatives.

The starting pistol has been fired on public sector uptake of public cloud services, and now the hard work of migrating to these services must begin. But where do you start?

GDS cloud guidance

The Government Digital Service (GDS), which is spearheading the move to the cloud, has provided some useful guidance, which includes a 14 point plan on implementing cloud security principles. In this guidance, the GDS highlights the need for government departments to make risk-based decisions around the cloud implementations and to ensure that sensitive citizen data is kept secure from tampering, loss or theft. The GDS prefers a collaborative approach between the government department and service provider, where they work together against a clear governance framework to ensure the integrity of public services.

The cloud knowledge gap

However, despite GDS guidance and the Government’s Cloud-First strategy, public sector organisations may still struggle with cloud implementation. Many of them are still getting to grips with how cloud works, with a recent study showing that 36 percent of government workers haven’t yet used cloud services. Although this lack of knowledge creates a challenge for government agencies to move safely and efficiently to the cloud and navigate the principles laid out by the GDS, it is not insurmountable, provided they get guidance and support throughout the process.

As the GDS blog points out, not all data will be appropriate for the cloud, but there are different cloud solutions for the many different types of data; it is just a matter of finding the right solution to match the data. Government departments are ready to tap the cloud for the business agility, security and innovation that as-a-Service promises–but no two cloud journeys are the same. To do this, departments should look at how they can identify and manage cloud deployment models across Public, Private, Hybrid or Internal Dedicated. To guarantee a continuity of service for the public, it’s likely there’ll be a period where legacy services co-exist with their cloud replacements, so it’s essential that government agencies build robust migration plans.

Partnering to transform

Making this journey alone may feel daunting, therefore a successful migration may well be one made in partnership with an independent transformation partner, who is able to provide sound advice and migration and implementation support. Such partnerships will deliver the expertise and knowledge required by government agencies to realise the full benefits of the cloud. They’ll also be instrumental in creating the hybrid-cloud environments that’ll be needed to support the mix of on-premises, private cloud, Crown Hosting and public cloud that most departments will need.

With the right transformation partner, your journey to the cloud will be simple and will deliver immediate results.

Take an Accenture project as a case in point, which we undertook for one of the UK’s largest Central Government Departments. Following a full cloud application assessment, we analysed the offerings of leading public cloud vendors and determined the best fit for our client based on its business goals. Once our solution architecture, business case and delivery roadmap were accepted, we implemented the solution, leveraging the selected cloud provider. The client has seen an immediate saving in infrastructure costs of 80 percent.

Start today

One thing is now certain: Public cloud services are going to be of critical importance to public sector organisations. Our advice is to prepare yourself now for change and start investigating what your future cloud infrastructure should look like. Cloud will improve the delivery of public services, but you need to make sure you get your migration right.

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