Could Confidence in the Cloud re-energise Public Services?

Public Cloud, central government

Earlier this year, James Stewart, Director of Technical Architecture and Head of Technology at the Government Digital Service, indicated that the Government’s Public Services Network (PSN) would be wound down stating that the government is "on a journey away from the PSN".

The PSN went live in 2011 and was intended to act as a "network of networks" with suppliers selling PSN services over the top. All central government departments connect to the PSN in whole or in part, either directly or via a legacy system.

At the time, the then Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said the network would drive savings and efficiencies by removing duplicate network connections. However, uptake of the network has been patchy, with some arguing that the UK government's G-Cloud procurement initiative had superseded its purpose.

Government organisations are beginning to overcome some of the cloud stigmas that were initially holding back adoption. So as the sector continues on its course to adopt public cloud, we take a look at the way in which public services are set to change for the better.

Increased security

As a private cloud, the PSN was historically favoured by the Government as the services delivered over it were perceived to be more secure than public cloud alternatives. Even today, myths around the lack of security in public cloud is still holding back adoption in the public sector. But in reality, private cloud customers actually experience around 51% more security incidents per customer than enterprises relying strictly on public cloud services.

Alert Logic’s Cloud Security report highlights that there is absolutely no indication that Public Cloud is any less secure, in fact, there is an increasing body of evidence to the contrary which you can read more about here. The variations in threat activity are not as important as where the infrastructure is located. Anything that can be possibly accessed from outside, whether enterprise or cloud, has equal chances of being attacked, because attacks are opportunistic in nature.

The Opportunity for Cost Savings

Widespread cloud adoption could significantly reduce billions spent by the public sector on IT every year and this will prove important as the Government continues its austerity agenda.

Pay-as-you-go pricing will enable the Public Sector to easily adapt to changing needs without overcommitting budgets and improving their responsiveness to changes. With a pay as you go model, they can adapt depending on need and not on forecasts, reducing the risk or overprovisioning or missing capacity.

By paying for services on an as needed basis, the sector can redirect their focus to delivering improved services and reducing procurement complexity.

Delivering Better services to citizens, faster than ever before

Cloud services in particular are an important tool for central government, enabling them to take advantage of both platform and infrastructure services to quickly roll out scalable new applications – both inside and outside their organisation. It’s this speed that’s key to the importance of cloud. Instead of taking years to build new applications, IT teams can deliver code in months, or even weeks, and by taking advantage of new development methodologies and tools, they can keep those systems running with regular updates. It’s a change that’s affecting both central and local government services, with the staff now able to deliver new software releases much faster, thanks to Cloud.

Combining that approach with mobile applications can also improve relationships between citizens and local councils. For instance, it can enable the council to release a basic app to enable users report potholes which can help prioritize road repairs, allowing road departments to see quickly just which issues affect the most people. Another example is an app that could be used to report missed bin collections, or report fly-tipping. It’s therefore clear to see that the growing number of community-driven applications are being used to deliver information to local councils, taking advantage of new open data services.

Crucially, it seems that we’re witnessing a turning point in the provision of IT services to the public sector. However, we recognise this change won’t be easy, and many organisations will need to go through a significant transformation but help is at hand.

ANS has over 20 years’ experience in working with the public sector, ranging from projects such as EPR and DR in the Cloud and Hybrid models, right through to moving the entire IT infrastructure and applications into the cloud.

More recently, ANS has worked with Salford City Council to support them on their transformational journey by adopting public cloud services. To find out how ANS implemented a flexible and scalable public cloud solution to provide the council with faster and more effective performance of its customer-facing digital systems, click here.


Posted by Helen Thomas