A five-point checklist to make digital transformation a success
Jon Lucas from Hyve Managed Hosting discusses the key considerations for public sector bodies looking to embrace cloud and digitalisation
It seems that everybody these days is talking about ‘digital transformation’. Organisations across all sectors are rethinking how they integrate digital technology into their business model to improve operations and drive value for customers, and the public sector is no different.
It is clear that the adoption of cloud is tied to these improvements, as Gartner predicts that by 2020 a no-cloud policy will be as rare as a no-internet policy is today. However, the journey from legacy to cloud infrastructure is not always a smooth one, and the public sector, in particular, is bound by constraints surrounding compliance, especially where the general population’s sensitive data is concerned.
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The ever-growing backdrop of GDPR, as well as the increased popularity in digital transformation journeys, means that the locality and security of data are under mounting scrutiny, especially in the public sector. Breaches related to data privacy can result in crippling fines, and the cyberattack on the NHS has done nothing to reassure the public of their data’s safety. And while security and compliance are vital factors, so too is the performance of applications and the ability for an organisation to scale in response to demand for services.
The government’s centralised procurement framework, G-Cloud, is designed to make cloud services more accessible to organisations, and accredits worthy providers who can provide the necessary services to facilitate digital transformation journeys. So, with this in mind, how can managed service providers (MSPs) help safeguard data as well as provide maximum output of applications?
Performance is undoubtedly the foundation to getting cloud right. MSPs are adept at identifying performance bottlenecks and overused resources, finding the root cause of the issue, and creating a solution. By closely monitoring activity, MSPs provide a solid management foundation that enhances resource usage by identifying when different workloads need to be accessed, and allocating the optimum cloud type. Additionally, some managed service providers deliver high-speed cloud servers – equivalent to the performance of SSDs, but without the high price tag – allowing customers to benefit from ideal power and velocity without the usual cost implications.
For most businesses, growth is always a major part of the plan. For public sector organisations, growth is more of a necessity than a desire, as population numbers increase and key services need to stretch further. This being said, growing on-premises storage to accommodate scale is difficult and expensive, particularly when budgets are tight. Public cloud is most suitable for scalability without huge price tags, but bringing in a cloud expert with the right knowledge is sure to bring better value for money without putting limits on storage volumes.
Just like everywhere else, the threat landscape in the public sector is greater than ever with DDoS attacks, ransomware hacks and outages hitting the headlines on an almost daily basis. As the NHS attack proves, successful attempts have the ability to cripple key services for the public, and cybercriminals are continually coming up with inventive ways to steal data and take businesses offline. Employing a managed cloud provider to manage threats 24/7 and constantly re-evaluate protection options, organisations can rest assured that they are safeguarded. A managed cloud service provider can also protect the points where public and private clouds integrate, if a company chooses to use a hybrid structure and not completely abandon its legacy architecture.
Compliance is important to every sector, but public organisations come under greater scrutiny than most. Not every company can fully store its data in the cloud – regulations such as the US-EU Privacy Shield and GDPR mean storing data can be quite complex. From a security perspective, businesses in industries such as education or healthcare are, or will become, legally obligated to keep specific sets of data within the European Economic Area (EEA), a task which becomes difficult to manage when organisations use public cloud, as there is no telling where data is being stored. Nevertheless, well-executed use of public cloud services will be appropriate for the vast majority of public sector-based data, but each organisation needs to make their own risk-based decision for their specific systems or data. Fortunately, managed cloud service providers can help keep organisations within regulations, and avoid fines or penalties for not adhering.