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Navigating obstacles on the cloud journey

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Surprisingly for a sector that has responded flexibly to the Government's funding constraints, the public sector still seems to be taking a roundabout journey, or even be stuck at the departure point, for its journey into Cloud computing.

In our Journey to the Cloud research we found that only 2% of the public sector IT managers we spoke to regard the sector as 'strongly supportive' of cloud operations.  

The finding is remarkable because the Government's Cloud First strategy mandate and G-Cloud platform (the latter topping £750 million in sales) are regarded world-wide as dynamic approaches to opening up transformative business systems to our public servants.  Yet government IT executives themselves seem reluctant to use cloud. How so?

Our findings revealed strong scepticism among public sector IT managers over implementing cloud.  

More than half tell us that the drive for public sector cloud comes from replacing obsolete technologies and nearly half again said 'off the shelf' email services was their 'first use' of this strategy: an understandably risk-averse approach to a potentially difficult crossing.

Caution over cloud implementations is shared by senior colleagues in the public sector. The most common reason for a delayed cloud journey was 'gaining internal sponsorship'. The most likely diversion is internal cost-cutting - in spite of constant financial pressures also being executives' top reason for considering cloud in the first place.

And nine out of ten IT managers say that their biggest concern is integrating cloud services, which explains civil servants' hesitation in taking this route and their seeking to limit its complexity with off-the-shelf technology offerings.

Caution also reigns for those who've already embarked on the journey. Three quarters claim that they are only now taking their first tentative steps towards the cloud.  

Clearly public sector organisations need greater confidence in the benefits that cloud brings, while minimising its risks. What should they do to make adoption less daunting?  Through analysing the survey's findings, we have identified three practical strategies to help IT executives achieve a successful journey to the cloud.

  1. Establishing an effective direction of travel requires detailed preparations. Every public organisation has unique service demands that can only realistically be met using tailored approaches.  Only by working across your organisation, can you understand the breadth of options available and identify a 'right fit' solution, and control your cloud journey with real confidence.
  2. Successful IT departments need to engage the wider organisation from the outset to reduce the frequent disconnect that we've observed between hard-pressed IT departments and service owners. Talk to other departments considering or already using cloud and ensure you evaluate their experiences and ongoing challenges.  
  3. To complete the journey derisking, work with proven partners, determining their capabilities and level of support you want from a cloud provider to best meet your organisation's needs.  The key here is due diligence: ensure you audit short-listed providers and take up detailed supplier references to onboard a reputable vendor.

The journey to the cloud is challenging but a risk-managed strategy, widely communicated and backed by a proven partner, will make it a successful one.

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