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It’s now an accepted fact that cloud technology is driving public sector IT forward and delivering significant efficiencies and improvements in service.
The requirement to access and consume information at any time, in any place, is at odds with the traditional IT model. We’re seeing that systems need to flex and expand, providing the ability to deliver at any time, including during times of high demand and high stress.
There are innumerable reasons to adopt cloud, including cost-effectiveness, and it’s only right that we as British citizens continue to demand efficiencies and improvements within our public services.
In our experience working with the Cabinet Office, delivering services for the UK resilience community, cloud allows huge versatility and flexibility. These are critical factors when supporting the effective, co-ordinated response to incidents like natural disasters, terror attacks and power outages.
Understanding our partners’ organisational needs and understanding their end users helps us provide the most appropriate solution possible, making information instantly accessible to those who need it, while keeping that information secure.
The public sector’s journey to the cloud is not always smooth. Pricing is not always as transparent as we’d like and support from some providers is non-existent or offloaded to third parties.
Recent talk from the huge US cloud providers of ‘per-second’ billing might make a nice soundbite for the press but it doesn't even begin to tackle the issue of departments being hit with a long list of additional charges; in fact it's a smokescreen making pricing even more unclear.
How can we expect cash-strapped government departments to migrate to cloud under a pricing model that makes it almost impossible to work out exactly how much a solution will cost them? These hidden costs are a sure-fire way to degrade trust in the technology and guarantee that organisations run significantly over budget on projects.
We hear stories from public sector departments that have had their fingers burned by moving to cloud providers that simply haven't had the high availability and the support needed for critical functions. They’ve been given the technology and then left to get on with it. That’s simply not good enough.
A new alternative
A disruptive business model is required to truly deliver on the opportunity of public sector cloud. Disruption in this context comes from re-thinking both the pricing models and the way we build business relationships.
The type of relationship clients ask for now is a true business partnership. It's about support; it's about helping organisations implement leading technologies like VMware and eCloud® to turn their strategy into something that's real. It's not just about saying ‘here are some virtual machines’ and letting them get on with it.
Receiving support in a timely fashion is one of the key requirements of the public sector and it's an area where providers simply have to go the extra mile. There's a step-change in what the public sector demands from its providers. This isn’t just a case of buying a product; it's about entering into a two-way partnership.
Additional charges for extra bandwidth, processing power and dedicated support are the old way. We don’t impose these extra costs and we never plan to. We’re even working to enable access to government private networks at no additional charge.
Relationships are a two-way street, of course and, before reaching out to providers, organisations must be clear about what their business needs and the needs of their end users are, before embarking on cloud projects so that providers can give them exactly what they need.
With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now just months away, public sector organisations must work alongside ISO 27018 certified providers, to ensure data procedures are compliant.
With this in mind, it’s ever-more critical to build relationships between data controllers and data processors. To understand where your data is stored is a first critical step to understanding your supply chain.
The guidance is there, the frameworks are in place, the technology is mature. All that remains is to forge robust, transparent business relationships between the public sector and its cloud service providers.
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