A new wave of cloud migration is about to hit in 2020.

Industry analysts Gartner and others are predicting steep growth in cloud spend across all sectors, over the next few years. Already Q4 2019 marked the biggest incremental rise in public cloud infrastructure services ever seen, with $2.8bn growth[1].

Until now, Local Government Organisations (LGOs) have been fairly cautious when it comes to cloud migration, and with good reason. With increasing demand for more flexible citizen services and the UK government challenge to think Cloud First, LGOs have had to think carefully about how to leverage cloud beyond the savings that can be made from removing the need for physical datacenters.

We know that, back in 2018, two thirds of councils were already using cloud for data storage[2]. There’s been a steady upwards trend since then – and it looks like that will continue throughout 2020.

The focus is now starting to switch to how cloud can be used to deliver enhanced digital experiences to communities and improve internal efficiencies.

But the challenges of limited budgets and heritage IT means that just getting started on a cloud journey – and ensuring applications are fully optimised for cloud – can be a complex undertaking. 

So what are some of the broader considerations for LGOs to ensure their cloud strategy is a success? Late last year, Capita carried out some research among early adopters of a ‘cloud-first’ approach, to capture and understand their key successes and challenges. From these learnings, we’ve developed some recommendations on how to approach the migration process – from getting started, to what to consider once you’re in the cloud:

  1. Align IT with other service units, so you’re not just following IT’s vision and priorities, but those of the whole organisation. You can either do this through a formal steering committee, or by gathering all department heads in one place.
     
  2. Build a smart strategy by identifying the ‘low-hanging fruit’ – those applications where there is a strong and valid business case to move to the cloud without requiring overly-complex re-architecture. This will deliver faster value to the business, while delivering an ongoing roadmap for remaining applications and workloads to be modernised to work best in the cloud. You should also consider optimising applications that will need to remain within your heritage IT estate in the medium to long term.
     
  3. Identify and close any skills gaps early on. The possibilities of cloud are continuously evolving, so ideally you’d need continuous insight into new features and how to leverage them. To stay up to date and cover multiple disciplines such as architecture design, migrations and optimising cloud and heritage enronments, many organisations find they need additional experience and expertise from outside sources.
     
  4. Collaborate. With colleagues, teams and service units. And just as importantly, stay open to reaching out to third party cloud and digital specialists for support when you need it. This journey doesn’t have to be taken alone.
     
  5. Your cloud strategy should place governance at the heart of everything you do. This is particularly important to ensure your cloud spend doesn’t spiral out of control once service units begin to access cloud resources. Governance should be an ongoing management task – not a one-time event once you’ve migrated.
     
  6. Adopt and embed an innovation mindset to enable iterative innovation in the cloud. Keep up with changes in the cloud market and continue to re-evaluate how you can unlock new features to help you accelerate your digital transformation journey.

Let’s start with strategy

Digital transformation is about much more than technology. It’s about creating valuable experiences for citizens and employees. Cloud is the foundation for a stream of emerging technologies that local and central governments, city councils and district authorities are increasingly using to transform urban, community and business life.

That’s why finding your focus, and setting the right pace are so critical. Having helped organisations of all sizes successfully transform using cloud technologies, I believe the key to success is not to tackle the whole migration journey at once (if you can avoid it). It’s far more efficient to develop a smart strategy for cloud using a phased approach, shaped and dictated by your key objectives.

To do that it will be important to gather all relevant stakeholders together to agree on what you want to achieve with cloud. This collaborative approach allows you to cherry pick the right areas to focus your time and budget on, helping you extract maximum value from your transformation journey.

Take a citizen-first approach

I recommend prioritising any cloud migration and application modernisation programme by initially focusing on those application groups that can deliver the most value to your citizens and service users in the shortest period of time.

Consider your infrastructure

Key to any future cloud strategy, is ensuring you have a complete understanding of your current infrastructure estate, so you can make informed decisions about what needs to be rearchitected and repurposed for cloud – and what must remain on premise.

You’ll need to differentiate between applications needed to run organisational functions – and those needed to drive innovation. This will help you determine the best design, configuration and optimisation around cost, performance, resiliency and security within your new cloud environment.

Put a plan together

Once you’ve agreed your outcomes and focus, you’ll be ready to put together a comprehensive business case summarising your aligned cloud strategy, future-state cloud architecture, target operating model, estimated cost and ROI, along with a high level migration and modernisation plan.

Modernising applications delivers long-term benefits, but can be a time-consuming and costly process, so make sure you choose wisely.

Your cloud strategy is fundamental to the success of your digital transformation, both today and into the future. Ultimately it will help you deliver a whole range of new citizen experiences and quality outcomes.

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