The Scottish Govt Digital Economy plan defines a number of specific action points for accelerating adoption of key technologies like Cloud computing:
Mandate the use of common platforms and infrastructure, including cloud hosting, as appropriate across the Scottish Government.
Make better use of cloud-based solutions as a source of both cost reduction and service innovation, and move public sector data hosting to a cloud environment wherever this is appropriate in terms of security and efficiency.
World Class Digital Government
If Scotland is to realize their goal of Building a World Class Digital Government it’s clear this technology is a critical foundation. For example this Scottish Parliament document on NHS technology innovation describes:
The adoption of Cloud technology and Agile delivery methodologies through the digital transformation at NES has proven that the fundamentals of the UK & Scottish Government digital strategies, when fully adopted, deliver real and lasting transformation of services.
By fully adopting the Cloud first approach for applications and systems to deliver redesigned services in support of the Health & Social Care Delivery plan, the data that underpins all aspects of improved care and quality can be made accessible to whomever needs it, whenever they need it from wherever they need it.
Cloud First best practices
One key policy tool is a ‘Cloud First’ mandate, as the name suggests a requirement that all new IT procurement opts first for a Cloud service if possible. It was first pioneered by the USA Govt in 2010 and is today recommended as the default starting point for CIOs.
Scotland also set this as a goal a few years ago but as Jim Gordon describes for Holyrood magazine it’s not yet translated into major uptake of Cloud services.
The Scottish Government’s Data Hosting and Data Centre Strategy is a major policy to drive this forward in Scotland.
This describes the situation, a common scenario where IT teams are still building their own data centres, still spending huge sums of taxpayers monies on reinventing the wheel and implementing under-utilized, cost inefficient infrastructure that inhibits innovation and scalability and perpetuates the legacy burden.
Cloud Migration Journeys
It also identifies the different types of Cloud Migration Journey you might undertake to begin addressing this situation.
Specifying service models such as Co-location, Managed Service, Hosted Private Cloud and Public Cloud, it spells out the basic framework for hosting environments you can migrate to:
- Cloud services in the public sector
- Managed service model in the public sector
- Co-Location Service Model for the public sector
It also includes a data centre efficiency assessment tool and offers helpful case studies. For example the case study covered in the data centre report for St Andrews University describes how they migrated from Novell Groupwise to Office 365, a ‘legacy to SaaS’ migration journey.
Not only did they identify how to reduce costs by £500k over five years through cost avoidance and reduced IT admin and server hardware costs, but they also equipped their workers with appropriately modern collaboration and communication apps. O365 comes with other tools like Lync and Sharepoint – and when combined with new phone upgrades et al, then this offers really quite a substantial leap in productivity boosting modernization.
This approach tallies with recommendations from McKinsey – The Progressive Cloud, a staged approach utilizing the ‘Hybrid Cloud’ model:
By progressively blending public-cloud and private-cloud solutions into hybrid-cloud configurations, companies can quickly take advantage of sophisticated cloud services and even move sensitive applications into the public cloud without disrupting their IT architectures and operations.
Existing legacy IT is the big challenge. As Computing reports it’s the complexity of their on-site applications and the associated sunk costs that is holding up migrations, and Computer Weekly writes that the Hybrid approach can unlock this challenge.
However there are pioneering adopters, such as Wolverhampton, who prove it can be done and can be emulated by the public sector across Scotland.
The double whammy of opportunity for Scotland is not only is there opportunity to massively reduce costs across the Scottish Government, but furthermore this can be achieved through growing the local industry.
For example as Digit reports DataVita launched in 2016 with the vision of bringing hybrid co-location and cloud services to the Scottish market.
As they describe DataVita offer this type of Hybrid Cloud approach, and with data centres in Scotland it offers the right balance ideal for public sector customers. In July they joined the G-Cloud program and so those customers can easily source the services through existing procurement methods.
Another company pioneering this approach is Brightsolid.
As DIGIT reports:
Leading Scottish cloud solutions company, Brightsolid, has been awarded a new contract to support Improvement Services in adopting a ‘cloud-first’ approach. The new contract will see Brightsolid, Scotland’s only dedicated co-location and managed cloud solutions company, support and facilitate the migration of services operated and managed by the Improvement Service – the national improvement service for local government in Scotland – onto the next generation of the cloud.