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Why is the public sector looking up to the Cloud

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Digital transformation is one of the defining agendas for today’s public sector, encapsulating as it does the twin goals of efficiency drive and innovation push. But for many government departments and agencies it is a case of the spirit being willing but the flesh weak: the vision is there, the strategy mapped out even, but existing systems are simply not up to supporting progressive shifts in IT. Legacy infrastructure, ageing applications, heavy proprietary integrations, costly data centres, budgetary pressure, these represent a perfect storm through which public sector teams are having to chart a course.

Thanks to the mandated “Cloud First” approach and Cloud’s obvious alignment with a more cost-effective, agile, responsive and innately modern way of working, it’s not surprising to see Cloud held up as the ‘go to’ route for those looking to navigate successfully to a better, brighter, more enabled and efficient future. Our own portfolio, just by way of example, offers a ready-made solution set incorporating everything from IaaS and DBaaS to hosted Unified Communications and Enterprise DevOps; add in aspects like UK sovereign data centres, PSN network accreditation, authorisation for security classified workloads, G-Cloud approved supplier status and ISO 22301, 27001 and 9001 and the proposition is a rich and immediately accessible one for those looking to change up a gear.

The frustration for everyone though is that this desirable gear change often has to be deferred long past the point of the original decision, either due to waiting on contract end points or for that tipping point to be reached when the risk of doing nothing becomes greater than the risk of doing something. But when that catalyst eventually comes into play, a shift to the Cloud does open the door to tailored, scalable, secure solutions that can deliver the requisite functionality and performance of the original vision, while easing the burden of capital expenditure and bringing greater cost certainty into the mix.

However, there is a risk in seeing Cloud always as an automatic panacea, so simple and straightforward that it’s no more than a mere corrective snap of the fingers. Where you’re dealing with the more commoditised end of Cloud, like the provisioning of managed VMs, yes, sure, it is a fairly easy ‘shopping’ process. But the transformational projects we’re seeing in the public sector are generally at the other end of the spectrum, where Cloud becomes the platform or the toolkit, and you still need those clever people, be that application developers, software engineers, business consultants or project managers to ‘pick up the bits’ and make them work.

That wrapper of, let’s call it professional services, around high-end Cloud solutions is proving the X-Factor in our own experience. We’ve recently worked on two transformation projects for government agencies: one based around Oracle Database-as-a-Service, delivered as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) private Cloud, incorporating migration of large-scale legacy datasets through to live system and database administration; the other, the delivery of a consolidated, flexible application development and test platform, through the supply of an Oracle Engineered Systems SuperCluster-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

In both cases, how we worked with the clients, the skills and knowledge we brought in to overlay the technical underpinnings, these were seen as critical success factors. Digital enablement and game-changing innovation may be made possible by high-grade Cloud solutions - but can only be made certain by leveraging a matching calibre of consulting expertise.

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