Keys to evolving use of cloud in public sector

Keys to evolving use of cloud in public sector

One of the things that experience of the last year tells us is that operational resilience, flexibility and cost-efficiency have never been more important in our public sector. To meet the needs of citizens, patients, travellers and employees, public agencies recognize that being cloud-enabled is the future.

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Jeroen Staarink
Chief Innovation Officer Cloud Enterprise Services
Public Sector and Defense, Atos

The Cloud difference

Long before the pandemic, we’ve seen examples, in health, state government, education, policing, in fact across the public sector, where cloud adoption makes a significant difference. Cloud infrastructure gives governments the agility they need to deliver on their priorities – whether that be to move employees to mass working online, to get more value from their data, to reduce their cost base, or to decarbonize their IT – and they can achieve all of those at the same time.

Yet while cloud ambitions might be clear, the choices around cloud providers and processes can be complex – especially for large institutions with legacy systems. The reality is that most public and defence organizations will operate a mixture of public, private and non-cloud services for years to come.

So how can public agencies navigate their own cloud journey and blend the mix of cloud that’s right for them? How can they drive cost-efficiency: to ensure maximum value for money from cloud? And how do they guarantee data privacy, sovereignty & move towards a zero IT-related carbon footprint?

An application-led approach

While moving to the cloud will bring about cost savings, getting the right architecture and design for cloud applications and making decisions about which applications to lift and shift to the cloud is essential.

The reality is that cloud may not be right for everything; taking cloud-first too literally can result in avoidable issues, including increased operating costs, delays to digital transformation and under-investment in critical business functions served by legacy. Many legacy systems have considerable value lockedin; if that value is not to be lost, dealing with legacy requires a balanced approach.

What’s more, while cloud adoption is the right goal, the split between private and public cloud will depend on the business and applications landscape: a hybrid cloud is often the optimum choice. And selection of services and providers must also be based on the protection of data and sovereignty, together with progress on the decarbonisation journey to Net Zero.

Cybersecurity in the cloud

If the benefits of hybrid cloud are clear, there is an important cybersecurity challenge to safeguard systems and data within and across multiple cloud environments. What started as a simple extension of traditional security principles into the cloud has become more complex with new and incumbent cloud vendors launching their own security technologies and controls.

Issues to be addressed include identity management, access control and having appropriate information polices and cyber security processes in place. Integrating all security controls into one 10 overall security posture is essential; and as the cyber threat evolves, cyber security must also evolve while acting as an enabler for digital transformation.

Roadmap for your journey

Once applications are moved, users should have a seamless experience, regardless of where their application is hosted. The process to provide that experience while enabling a gradual migration of the legacy applications can be a long journey.

A clear and strong vision, roadmap and goals must be articulated, evolved and communicated to stakeholders. Significant technical skills and experience are required to map and plan in detail all the interdependencies to orchestrate widescale change while managing risks and impacts. Procuring external support to access specialist expertise and learning from other organisations and sectors while building a sustainable internal capability will accelerate the journey.

Cloud is the engine of transformation and the foundation for future-proof operations. Public sector organisations now have major opportunities to utilise the benefits of cloud; and agencies and industry need to work together to make this happen.

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