Digital Transformation has become commonplace across the UK public sector due to government policies such as Cloud First and the Government Transformation Strategy. An opportunity exists for digital projects to deliver genuine benefits and save the public sector billions of pounds whilst vastly improving the public services delivered to citizens and businesses.
New services have adopted modern IT approaches but the scale of traditional and legacy IT within the public sector far exceeds these new systems. The UK Government Digital Service recognises the need for strategies and solutions that tackle these larger challenges, thus achieving even greater cost savings and service improvements.
At the heart of making transformation happen is delivering better value IT for UK taxpayers. The first wave of citizen facing digital services has ensured that technologies such as cloud, mobile and digital are much more widely accepted. Yet the cloud has not yet disrupted the bulk of the public sector’s IT which is most often locked into on-premises facilities or long term outsource agreements. The benefits of modernising these traditional IT systems will far exceed the benefits seen to date, but what worked for the first wave of their transformation, won’t be enough for the next wave, which is why investments into multi-cloud platforms that brings together Azure, OpenStack, Oracle and VMware environments enable customers to use the right cloud for every workload, no matter what system and platform.
Multi-Cloud enables modern applications to harness dynamic cloud native technologies such as Azure and Kubernetes, whilst also accelerating the modernisation of traditional applications that are typically built for VMware and Oracle environments so that they come together on the same platform, within the same sovereign data centres. The diversity of multiple cloud technologies enables customers to avoid lock-in, harness their existing capabilities and enable greater agility to deal with uncertainty.
This trend also plays into the government’s recently announced Crown Campus which provides public sector organisations with the safety of high security, UK-based data centres and the flexibility of being able to use different cloud providers without having to worry about moving data and systems between third party data centres. It means public sector organisations retain more control and ability to mix non-cloud, private cloud and public cloud services.
The UK Government now has a clear ‘Public Cloud First’ strategy with the G-Cloud digital marketplace making it easy to procure. Cloud is easy to procure but needs focus on the applications intended to run in the cloud. To get the best value from cloud, existing applications need to be re-engineered or built completely new from the ground up to ensure that they are what is called Cloud Native. Most applications used across public sector were designed and built well before cloud became a ‘thing’ and it is often too costly and disruptive for them to be re-engineered or rebuilt for the global cloud platforms.
A challenge exists for public sector CIOs to take the cost and inefficiency out of traditional IT and legacy applications that are not Cloud Native so that more resources can be focused on innovation and agility as they transform processes and workloads. This includes IT that is either running in under-invested on-premises data centres that might be at risk of closure as the government sells off property and moves to a consolidated estate – or IT that is tied up in wholesale IT outsource contracts that have proven to be inefficient and inflexible and so are being dis-aggregated. For many organisations simply keeping the lights on; managing upgrades, patches, backups, capacity management, infrastructure refresh projects which consumes about 80% of their entire IT budget.
Getting locked-in to a cloud platform during this process simply isn’t an option for most CIOs who not only need to be able to transform at their own pace, but also need to focus on longer term value and agility. A true multi-cloud proposition means that organisations can maintain an Oracle (or other) infrastructure in the cloud, lift and shift a traditional three tier application onto as-a-service infrastructure and transform to Cloud Native at a pace required for that organisation, in a manageable phased approach within a secure environment.
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