Cloud computing is a necessary direction for all in the public sector as directed by central Government. In 2017, leading industry body TechUK issued a peer paper called ‘Building Local Government Trust in the Security of Cloud’. In this, the widely held concern around security of cloud services was addressed, providing information, advice and specific messaging for local authorities.
The drivers of the shiny digital future underpinned by cloud computing were identified as:
• Internet of Things (IoT)
• Mobile applications
• Big data analytics
• Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The opportunity of cloud adoption is to enable ready access to computing platforms, ‘on demand’, creating efficiency and cost savings, with flexibility to allow for greater innovation, productivity and operational effectiveness.
A GovNewsDirect survey of 2016 did quote a growing concern over security of data in the cloud. The counter was for organisations to use the cyber security tools, solutions and educational initiatives to introduce secure cloud computing and inform the user.
General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
Added to this, GDPR in May 2018 made all organisations sit up and take notice around effective management and processing of data for EU citizens. With penalties of 4% of global turnover or €20 million for any breach, a more thorough and diligent approach has added to the configuration considerations for cloud architecture and storage.
Accepting a half-way house to cloud?
For many public sector organisations, a full blown ascent to cloud migration is not feasible, often because of complexity around their legacy apps or workload types and the cost implications as the ROI for cloud is poor. In this scenario, we are seeing and hearing greater noise around the hybrid cloud format, Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) solution. This on-premise hybrid solution has garnered advocates in the public sector, as being a viable and desirable way forwards as part of their digital journey, better suited for workloads with higher GB volume where performance is needed.
Digital vision, a budget to transform – mixed with a healthy dose of reality
For even the most progressive Councils in England, the drive to digital transformation comes with various challenges. Glyn Peach, Director of Digital Services & Corporate Programmes at Swindon Borough Council, commented to us: “As part of our Transformation Programme, Swindon has evolved a highly effective Software Defined Data Centre and we’ve made solid progress on front end citizen services, moving many services online and providing self-service capability. But true end-to-end user integration is still a little way off. We are seeing great opportunity in data analytics and assistive tech. This is starting to have an impact through our ‘Community Navigators’ programme supporting Adult Social Care and using preventative technology which can identify the risk of isolation and spot abnormal behaviour that may indicate a problem for the elderly in our care homes in Swindon. If we can more broadly implement interoperability opportunities and open systems, this will ultimately pave the way for common standards that in the long term will bring down the costs of new tech and save money for the tax payer”.
Cloud journey checklist
• Ensure your cloud service meets your organisations’ needs aims and objectives securely.
• Understand what type of data is involved and what levels of assurance are required.
• Work with cloud providers who have their own independently audited compliance framework standards (eg. ISO27001, Cyber Essentials Plus etc.)
• Use the latest cloud security technology to solve issues or business problems (ie around remote working or revenues and benefits)
Is it safe? What information do you want to share with the cloud?
The levels of data privacy and security from different providers will differ depending on the type of information you are sharing when using a cloud service. Amicus ITS has a Cloud Services Framework for helping organisations determine their own path. Take a look at our Cloud Assessment
Glyn Peach added: “While the IT department may not handle the physical infrastructure or management of Shadow IT applications and services, IT does carry the burden of ensuring security and compliance for the corporate data that employees create and transmit through Shadow IT sources. This creates mixed feelings toward Shadow IT, as some enterprises are willing to embrace the innovation and increased productivity it can deliver, while others aren’t as willing to look past the increased risk of security and compliance complications of Shadow IT”.
Councils moving their infrastructure to cloud is a positive first phase. Embarking on the path of true digital transformation is a second, far larger project which requires input from everyone and requires a re-examination of the entire way of doing business. It is exciting though and with both parts of the journey, relies on careful planning, a strong strategic vision, good leadership, buy-in from the board, plus trusted partnerships. Firstly in fostering and directing the talent of inhouse IT teams and then identifying the areas where further support or specialist technological solutions are needed to drive higher performance, enablement and ROI, adding new frontiers of value that come with our brave world of tech.
Q What has been your experience of cloud migration? Has your organisation been able to make the leap to digital transformation, or is this part of a longer strategy which has either started or is being planned?