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Bespoke IT solutions for the Public Sector

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Following the introduction of a ‘Cloud First’ policy in 2013, the public sector has turned to cloud computing to combat the challenges that continue testing their limited resources. The expansion of the G-Cloud supplier framework was designed to drive wider adoption of cloud computing in the public sector to boost business growth and ensure further savings. Departments are free to choose a method which fits their requirements but internal skill gaps can lead to investment in products which are unfit for purpose.

At one time there were only a small amount of IT contractors offering cloud solutions with long term contracts, but there are now a wide range of products being offered by big companies entering the market. Although there are actually only three types of cloud: public, private and hybrid. The overcomplicated language being used by suppliers and insufficient research carried out by IT departments, makes it unsurprising there is confusion over which is a suitable solution.

Big companies have disrupted the market by offering public cloud solutions that are considered cheaper and easier to implement compared to the smaller competitors. This product is most attractive to businesses beginning to explore the cloud; however the public cloud comes with drawbacks which can be missed during the tender stage.

The public cloud is a model which is predesigned and can be deployed to multiple clients. It brings together greater levels of resources and is able to deal with fluctuations in traffic seamlessly. This can be hugely beneficial to businesses looking for a simple option as its cost efficient and quick to implement, but it can cause problems further into the contract. The public cloud is created to fit the business model of the supplier, rather than the end user requirements. For example, if at any point during the contract the client requires bespoke work such as bespoke configurations, the change will come with an additional cost.

Although there are advantages to the public cloud, it is important to note it may not be the right fit for all organisations. For clients wanting to create a product which fits around their business model, the private cloud is the answer as it offers the client full control and reliability. While the initial implementation costs can be more than the public cloud, the flexibility of private cloud eliminates additional costs over a long term contract. It is built upon concerns of security and compliance which is essential for those trusted with vast amounts of personal information such as many public sector departments.

The lines between the public and private cloud can become blurred by adopting the hybrid cloud. This allows businesses to take advantage of the flexible scalability and low implementation costs offered by big companies while outsourcing other elements such as enhanced security, which can be achieved through specialist bespoke solutions. This platform is ideal for organisations looking for the agility of cloud computing and assurance of managing resources more effectively. When considering adopting the hybrid cloud, it is important to remember the management is much more complex than the other two options. This is because it requires management of private, public and traditional data centres all at once and will often lead to appointing someone to oversee the overall operation.

Ultimately, public sector organisations must consider the long term requirements and fully evaluate the options available from the initial planning stage. It is crucial rational analysis of potential risks has been carried out to avoid failure in the future, especially with great amounts of citizen records and sensitive data they store. The complex business structure and changeable environment makes it difficult to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ solution such as the one the larger enterprises are offering. For years the public sector has paid a high price for investing in IT solutions that do not fit requirements, now is the time to conduct thorough research and place agility and security at the top of the priority list.

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