Cloud technology is transforming how organisations operate today, it’s a move not just seen in the private sector but in the public sector too. Indeed, in the UK, cloud migration is actively encouraged by the government, with local authorities, national agencies, healthcare providers and education establishments, amongst others, increasingly seeking its adoption and reaping the benefits. Here, we discuss what those benefits are.
The public sector is used to working with limited budgets; however, the unprecedented costs of the pandemic will have an impact on future funding and this means that organisations will need to find even more economical ways of operating for the foreseeable future. While the need to expand IT services will continue, executives will need to focus spending on frontline services. This leaves the dilemma of how to improve IT without diverting finances from essential services.
At present, many public sector organisations still run their IT operations in-house, spending large sums on servers, software, power, premises, insurance, security, maintenance and IT expertise as a result. It is a major financial burden and one that will grow as the need for digital services expands.
The solution lies in cloud technology. Migrating services to the cloud can reduce IT costs significantly. Using the services of a cloud vendor, organisations no longer need their own servers and so the capital expenditure requirements are replaced with easily scalable resource usage, charged for on a monthly pay-as-you-go basis. As a result, the other costs are reduced or removed too; there’s no need for somewhere to house the hardware, no energy required to run it and cool it, and no maintenance, replacement, insurance or physical security costs. In addition, the managed services provided by the cloud vendor means IT expertise can either be freed up to work on improving frontline services or scaled back to reduce costs even more.
Overall, therefore, migrating to the cloud provides two financial opportunities for the public sector: it can cut existing costs significantly while enabling future expansion and short-term scaling-up to take place without the massive investment needed to do it in-house.
Whether it is staff working remotely, householders paying for parking services or patients making appointments online, public sector organisations increasingly need to deliver online services to both employees and end users. By migrating to the public cloud, organisations make those services available over the internet from anywhere with a connection. People can log in to secure systems to work from home or access the services they need. It makes those services available around the clock and when automated, as many cloud-based services are, they reduce the burden on human resources and consequently on the budget.
Essentially, the cloud enables organisations to do more with less and operate more effectively. Centrally stored data, for example, is not only more secure; it ensures everyone has access to the latest files and information. Where vulnerable end users can fall between the gaps when dealing with multiple departments, centrally stored data means all their interactions, across all touchpoints, can be mapped, ensuring consistent communications and seamless services.
Other benefits include being able to reduce office space through remote working, offering more flexible working conditions, recruiting staff from further afield and keeping services running when, in the past, things like snow days, would have shut them down.
While being online can help the public sector deliver better services, it’s crucial that things remain online. Downtime can be a major problem, especially for emergency services where disruption can lead to life-threatening situations. The most common issue faced by those with in-house systems is server failure. Reducing the impact of this and bringing a server back online quickly often requires the need for additional hardware kept solely for the purposes of being a backup. Purchasing a server that might seldom get used, is not always the most cost-effective solution.
Issues like server failure do not affect cloud customers as software runs on virtual machines that are not tied to specific physical servers. If a hardware issue is discovered in a cloud datacentre, the vendor simply moves the virtual server to a different physical machine and the services continue uninterrupted. No other form of hosting provides the same level of availability as the cloud. For public sector organisations that cannot afford to see their services go offline, this is the most reliable way to run them.
Keeping sensitive data secure
While data security is vital for all organisations, the nature of the public sector means people expect it to be of the highest standards. This is especially the case given the type of information public sector bodies hold on people. With highly sensitive information, like medical, criminal and social services records, etc., being stored, robust security is essential.
Unfortunately, the growing sophistication of cybercriminal attacks makes this difficult to achieve, as the number of local authorities, hospitals and universities that have been victims over the last few years clearly shows. The issue for the public sector is the cost of implementing the advanced security tools and employing the security expertise needed to keep systems secure.
Moving to the cloud, however, reduces the security burden. Cloud vendors invest heavily in security to ensure they meet their own strict regulations and provide the protection their customers need. Cloud customers, therefore, receive the benefits of security expertise and advanced security tools as part of their cloud services.
In addition, the cloud enables centrally stored data to be protected by logical control and access privileges, so that only those with authorisation can access it. That data can also be quickly backed up, encrypted and integrity tested, so in the event of an attack, services can be restored swiftly.
Cloud technology can bring many benefits to the public sector. It reduces costs while enabling the scalable use of resources; it offers the means to deliver reliable remote working and online user services, and it provides the opportunity to increase data security and offer seamless services to prevent vulnerable users from falling through gaps.
For more information about our managed cloud solutions, visit Hyperslice.com.