Richard Munro, Director Global Cloud Strategy, VMware
Cities are becoming smarter and more efficient. Innovations like the Internet of things (IoT), smart sensors and blockchain are propelling the management and understanding of our buildings, transport networks and energy consumption forward at breakneck speed.
But successfully delivering on the potential of these innovations is a major challenge with governments racing against the clock of rising consumer expectations. Citizens are taking the experiences they receive from nimble private sector organisations like Uber and CityMapper and comparing them to what they receive from their governments. In this fight, there’s only going to be one winner. While being pressured to keep up, governments also need to demonstrate better taxpayer value in public sector projects. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, this is an issue that is only going to be exacerbated.
So, what’s a government to do? To meet citizen expectations, they need to deliver intuitive, flexible and scalable digital services. To do that, they need applications that meet those requirements, which in turn demand environments that can support both the applications and the data they create, capture and share. That means platforms with inherent flexibility, scalability and reversibility, supported by ways of financing that do not demand significant upfront investment. At the same time, they have to manage the demands of a complex mix of legacy and modern applications.
If ever there was a perfect introduction for cloud, this was it.
Billion dollar backing for Cloud
It’s often said that cloud adoption in the public sector is slow when compared to private industry. In fact, cloud spend in both national and local government in the US outstrips the average of all industries – 22% and 20.6% of budget respectively compared with 20.4% across all sectors. This is testament to the success of the ‘Cloud first’ strategy that has been in place since 2010.
Every silver lining has a cloud
However, public sector decision making and deployment at such a monumental scale is difficult. Issues around a potential knowledge gap as existing platforms and IT approaches have been in place for decades and are managed by employees approaching the end of their working lives. For IT departments, this presents a significant challenge – how do they manage these aging systems, that still support mission critical applications and services, without experienced workforces? The economic case for training other employees to fulfil this role rarely adds up. When cloud is becoming ever more omniscient, focusing on investing in the skills required to manage these new platforms makes more sense.
There is the added issue of open source technologies, which is blurring the lines between both vendor and free to use tools. And while much is being done to ensure the utmost security protocols, ongoing investment is required to address the challenges of security in a dynamic environment, especially with highly sensitive personal information and critical infrastructure data at stake.
Hosting too, is also a challenge. Some mission critical applications rely on existing infrastructure services to run, being closely tied to their environment, closely tied to their environment. To move into the cloud is out of the question; to refactor, or transform, would be prohibitively expensive and require significant time when there is so much else needs doing. It would be very easy for governments to find themselves in a situation where they’re tied in knots and unsure where to turn. Indeed, many already have. According to one study, 74% of companies moved apps onto the cloud and then moved them back on-premise. Even businesses offering cloud services are rethinking how they themselves use different environments – according to its financial reports, Dropbox saved more than $70 million in operational expenditure, primarily because it moved most of its data away from the cloud.
The result is that governments are beginning to realise that, due to the varying requirements of their estates and the demands of both speed and cost – as well as being innovative to deliver smart cities and increasingly digital-first services – they’re falling behind simply by trying to keep up. What they need is software that can be developed and used as fast as possible, adapting to changing marketplace requirements, and running on infrastructure that can deal with these rapid changes and can scale.
All hail hybrid
Enter hybrid cloud. True hybrid cloud delivery is the ability to work consistently across all environments, irrespective of whether they are private, public, on-premises, running traditional or cloud- native apps. You can leverage existing investments in skills and tooling and use the same tools across operations and infrastructure, while ensuring security and governance – irrespective of location.
VMware’s digital foundation enables organisations to create, run, manage, connect and intrinsically protect apps, across any cloud, to any device, simply and at speed. This ubiquitous platform can deliver all apps—cloud-native apps in the public or private cloud, hybrid apps, or on-premises traditional applications — enabling developers to use the latest development methodologies and container technologies for faster time to production – all with consistent management and operations. If that’s not enough, we are the only company able to do this.
Benefits too big to ignore
The benefits of the cloud are too important for governments to not be on the cutting-edge. By adopting a hybrid approach government organisations can overcome the security and data sovereignty issues of the past to deliver a new generation of cost-effective and innovative citizen services, while preserving integrity and trust. Our report, ‘The Journey to a Government Cloud’ is available here. For more information on VMware’s digital foundation or to find out how we can assist your journey to the Cloud, please contact us.