Cloud strategy planning for public sector organisations

Technology has transformed the way that organisations operate and do business. ICT increasingly plays a critical role in most businesses and organisations.

In the private sector, digital transformation is nothing new. Businesses of all sizes were among the early adopters of cloud technologies which have had a transformative effect on their operations.

It has helped them reduce costs, bolster their network and data security, enhance productivity, boost collaboration and improve workflow and communications.

However, over the past ten years, public sector organisations have started placing increased focus on digital transformation to improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of their service delivery.

Tightening budgets, legislative changes around data security and the like, and Government directives have placed additional pressure on public sector organisations to modernise their legacy systems, strengthen their cybersecurity, and develop cloud strategies.

However, lack of finance, resources and in-house expertise creates huge challenges for organisations that want to adopt a digital-first approach.

Here, we highlight some of the best practices for successful cloud management to help public sector organisations meet their objectives.

Define your migration strategy

While most public sector organisations are aware of the benefits that migrating to the cloud can unlock, many are still at the beginning of their journey.

Tightening budgets and an ever-stricter regulatory environment mean that organisations can no longer afford to ignore the transformational gains that migrating to the cloud can bring.

However, to achieve a successful cloud migration, defining a strategy and ensuring it aligns with your organisational objectives is a critical first step.

The first question you should ask yourself is which applications and workloads should be migrated to the cloud and establish if they’re critical in terms of operating costs.

With cost of service at the forefront, it has become critical whether a service is fulfilling or supporting a statutory obligation or if it isn’t, does it allow the public body to reduce cost?

Because of this, primary targets for migration have been those that are excessively expensive to run and fulfil a statutory obligation, as these are the ones the public body must continue to deliver.

You should also evaluate the cost of migrating applications to the cloud with a side-by-side comparison of on-premise costs versus cloud configuration costs and base your recommendations on asset types, regions, reservations and projected costs, all of which can ease the burden of migration planning.

Create a Cloud ‘Centre of Excellence’

Establishing a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) can help your organisation oversee and support your cloud strategy execution.

Your CCoE should be made up of cloud ‘champions’ who can adopt and understand the technology, help your users adhere to best practice standards and support departments and teams in areas including financial management, operations, security, and compliance.

A CCoE will usually be made up of key stakeholders from each area of the organisation and various departmental leaders. Establishing a solid and collaborative CCoE will help achieve buy-in across all departments and ensure your ongoing cloud strategy is aligned with and supports the objectives of all areas of your organisation.

Initially, your CCOE needs to be a ‘doing’ team. It needs to pick easy targets and deliver them in cloud. And while doing so, it needs to establish reusable patterns and reference architectures (standard ways of doing things in cloud to avoid the scenario where 20 different people all invent different practices which need to be managed in different ways).

Once the CCOE has delivered the standard way of doing things, it needs to work out how the organisation will use these. There’s a need to avoid your delivery being highly complex and your users always having to come to IT to get them delivered. Instead, solutions should be built easily out of pre-defined components.

Align your budgets to your resources

With public sector organisations becoming increasingly reliant on cloud services to transform their operations and improve their service delivery, there is a clear need to gain tighter control of their cloud spend.

This means having complete visibility of all the cloud resources the organisation is using to better identify and allocate cloud usage and spend.

Many cloud management platforms allow IT teams to group resources according to operational need, such as by project group, location, department or owner.

This granular visibility can help IT and finance departments identify  unused licenses or misconfigured or non-compliant assets where potential cost savings or efficiencies could be achieved.

Streamline your IT

To reduce operational costs and minimise waste in the cloud, public sector organisations need to shift from on-premise to cloud.

This can include decommissioning unused or idle cloud resources, ‘right-sizing’ assets, continuously reviewing licensing requirements to ensure you’re not paying for more than you need and identifying and utilising pricing discounts offered by cloud service vendors.

In growing cloud environments, automated analytics can help IT and finance teams identify

optimisation opportunities and highlight potential efficiencies that deliver a better return on investment.

Historically, public sector organisations used a ‘lift and shift’ approach to move services into cloud. For example, if they had a server hosting a service on-premise, then moving it to the cloud involved moving it into Azure or AWS as a server. But, servers need to be always on in cloud.

To reduce cost, organisations would then decide that the service only needs to run during the day, so they’d create a script to turn it off at night, then right size it. Each time, a small gain is made.

However, digital transformation uses cloud to change the application rather than just move it, so that it can be delivered in a cloud-native, where the customer only pays for the service when it’s in use.

Centralise and automate your governance policies

With public sector funding and budgets continuing to tighten, it’s vital that organisations maximise their cloud resources. Defining and centralising cloud policies and governance is the most efficient way to manage to scale cloud infrastructure.

Robust cloud governance policies can provide real-time insight on any irregularities, such as cost spikes, security vulnerabilities, compliances issues and more, across all the departments that use cloud resources.

Many cloud management platforms allow for automated actions, such as terminating unused resources or licenses, to make the process even simpler.

While cloud services help drive cost efficiencies, their main benefit is supporting and enabling an organisation’s digital transformation.

Combining public and private cloud service with on-premise resources can give your organisation the agility it needs to remain competitive, productive and efficient.

Cloud can help bridge the gap between your organisation’s ICT strategy, which will have saving money at the top of its agenda, and its broader corporate strategy, which will more likely be focused on making investments that deliver long-term value and returns.

If you enjoyed this blog and want to learn more about how we can help your organisation develop an effective cloud strategy and achieve improvement through technology, give us a call on 01332 322588.

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