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Three ways the public sector can get the most from hybrid cloud

Wed 28 Aug 2019 | Sascha Giese

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In order for public sector organisations to obtain the full benefits of hybrid cloud, they need to continually learn, experiment and monitor

The rate of cloud computing adoption has led to its establishment as a fundamental platform for many organisations. Analyst firm Gartner found that cloud computing ranks among the highest on its disruption scale, with these services set to continue to grow in popularity, acting as a necessary enabler for future disruptions.

From a public sector point of view, even though two-thirds of organisations in the UK use cloud computing, the adoption rate is hampered by the need to maintain legacy IT infrastructure.

As a result, this hybrid IT model of maintaining on-premises infrastructure while taking on cloud services is the most common in the sector—according to a survey from Socitm and Eduserv, 64 percent of UK public sector organisations deploy their IT in this way.

Budget constraints are also a roadblock for many public sector organisations keen to fast-track their cloud adoption. It’s not just a matter of “out with the old and in with the new,” which is why many public sector IT teams manage older systems while incorporating cloud technologies.

While this may sound like a less than ideal situation, it’s actually the opposite. For these organisations, hybrid cloud provides the peace of mind of on-prem with the agility, scalability, and flexibility of cloud, but, it’s important to know what the goals are and set expectations accordingly.

Here’s how those in the public sector can go about getting the most out of hybrid cloud:

Brush up on cloud knowledge

As with any IT project, the first step is to understand goals and set expectations accordingly. IT departments must remember the cardinal rule of cloud: one-size-fits-all does not fit all.

In the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018: The intersection of hype & performance, 95 percent of UK public sector respondents indicated cloud and/or hybrid IT are one of the top five most important technologies for their organisation’s IT strategy, so cloud isn’t going away any time soon. Although most installations will be multi-cloud, remember that each organisation requires its own strategy and you must be prepared to deliver it.

At some point, you may be approached and asked to do something you simply don’t know how to do. Using multi-cloud as an example, it could be your job to ensure interoperability and you might be unfamiliar with that topic.

Despite being in the IT department, this doesn’t mean you’re an expert on every aspect of technology in existence. So how can you prepare? 

“Hybrid cloud provides the peace of mind of on-prem with the agility, scalability, and flexibility of cloud”

Learn anything and everything

In the technology industry, there is no greater teacher than experience, and in public sector IT there are plenty of opportunities to gain experience to help avoid unintentionally using bad judgement.  These are ways to “fail” without costing your organisation money, jeopardising your staff, losing your data, becoming vulnerable for a security breach—whatever keeps you up at night.

Start experimenting with all of the cloud services that you’re unsure about now. Every cloud platform has a free tier, and every cloud environment has both vendor-employed advocates and external voices of experience to nail down several key points quickly, simply, and clearly. While these aren’t step-by-step instructions or the keys to success on a single brass ring, if you’re dedicated to exploring all things cloud, these resources will help guide you.

Additionally, always remember to fight the good fight, even if the going gets tough. Because so much depends on you providing good guidance, don’t let the accounting department or the C-suite dictate poor technical choices without a sound argument. Be sure to make the reasons compelling to the organisation and the public that rely on it, not the technicians, and you’ll have a good chance.

Use data to your advantage. Distil data into actionable, digestible insights management can use to make informed decisions to help move the organisation forward. Your opinion will become more valuable and you may even earn yourself a long-term seat at the strategy table.

Along these lines, don’t be afraid to ask questions or question assumptions if you think something can (or should) be done differently or better. If you offer helpful solutions to avoid potential issues, your colleagues will be glad you did.

Monitor to get the best out of your systems

Just like cloud is not one-size-fits-all, there isn’t one single best practice for building and implementing hybrid cloud solutions in the public sector. It’s contingent upon your IT department’s journey to the cloud, the team’s specific skill levels, and intentions/planned use of cloud solutions.

Test the waters if you don’t feel comfortable diving in head-first and recognise you’re not alone. You can build for cloud inside a data centre, and if it has the correct operating parameters, it’s push-button simple to move to the actual cloud down the road.

One universally-relevant best practice, however, is monitoring. How can IT work to best align workloads and applications to specific needs? You can’t know “best” or even “normal” if you don’t have a baseline.

Monitor workloads to get a baseline and go from there. In cloud, monitor for the bottom of the graph as well as the top—in this case, make sure you don’t have systems running but unused. Incorporate monitoring into your solution from the get-go to ensure it’s not pushed to the back burner and never implemented.

The cloud is king, and organisations of every shape and size can benefit by considering whether or not this technology could work for them. With the variety of options a hybrid cloud solution brings, even organisations in the public sector—restricted as they are—can find a solution to work for them.

  • Image credit: Funtap P

Experts featured:

Sascha Giese

Head Geek
SolarWinds

Tags:

hybrid cloud public sector
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