Has COVID-19 impacted attitudes towards cloud in the public sector?

Myles Clarke

Only 59% of public sector organisations considered cloud ‘very important’ pre-COVID

At the beginning of 2020, in conjunction with our partner Vysiion, we released a report detailing survey responses from public sector organisations around their cloud strategy and cloud adoption.

It was interesting to see the interpretation of the Government’s Cloud First policy in the survey results. 79% of organisations correctly identified that they must ‘think’ public cloud first, but that other hybrid cloud options providing more appropriate levels of security, flexibility and cost efficiencies should be evaluated. However, only 59% of organisations considered cloud a ‘very important’ part of their overall digital strategy.

The results of the survey highlighted an encouraging awareness of the need to assess cloud technology appropriately before deployment. Leigh Hall, Head of Data Centre Engagement at Vysiion commented: “In line with what we are experiencing with our public sector customers, the survey results support the trend to include cloud in digital strategies. It is encouraging to see public sector organisations being aware of the need for them to make an initial assessment of public cloud but retain the flexibility to utilise on-premise or private cloud options where security, flexibility and value for money can be demonstrated. This is where the Crown Hosting framework supports Cloud Transformation by providing unbeatable commercial terms for legacy infrastructure while organisations establish their cloud strategy. Discovering an overwhelming majority felt that hybrid cloud was the right strategy for them endorses the experience we have with our customers in almost all cases”.

Surprisingly, 32% of survey respondents had yet to define what their organisation’s cloud strategy would be – and so it was less surprising to learn that 45% of organisations had also not yet decided how to implement cloud technology as part of their transformation programmes.

Now the obvious point here is that the world looked very different at the beginning of 2020. It’s well documented that as the COVID-19 pandemic hit we saw unprecedented changes in operations, with entire workforces told to work from home almost overnight. Public sector organisations faced a huge challenge in continuing to provide essential public services with a remote workforce. The challenges around cloud adoption had to be put aside to be able to respond to the pandemic as IT leaders looked to fast track cloud adoption to enable operational changes.

Justin Day, CEO at Cloud Gateway said: “In the wake of the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge acceleration in cloud adoption across both public and private sectors. However, IT leaders had little time to think strategically, where tactical fixes took precedence in the short term. Particularly in government, there is a lot of old infrastructure around, but unfortunately that is responsible for some very important forward-facing services. Now public sector organisations have a chance to take a step back, think strategically, and build something which transforms moving forward.

53% of public sector organisations estimated cloud transformation was ‘24+ months away’

A key result which the survey uncovered was that a surprising 53% of public sector organisations estimated that their cloud strategy would take 24+ months to execute. In fact, 77% of respondents in total stated that cloud transformation in their public sector organisation was more than a year away.

When drilling down deeper into the survey results we were able to uncover some differences in the responses given around cloud transformation challenges faced across the sector:

● Security and migration of legacy applications and technology were the key obstacles which central government organisations felt impacted their ability to implement cloud strategies and transform digitally

● Responses from local government organisations stated that the key challenges blocking cloud transformation were lack of budget and cost concerns

● Across the board, capacity and speed of migration were stated as being one of the top challenges which public sector organisations are facing when it comes to implementing their respective cloud strategies and transformation programmes

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

It is worth remembering that an awful lot has changed since the beginning of 2020 when these surveys were taken. With pivotal changes made as the UK was gripped by the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen an acceleration in cloud adoption in both the private and public sectors like never before.

In the face of overnight changes to operations, IT leaders in the public sector had to make tactical changes to their infrastructure in order to be able to send workforces home in line with government guidelines. The priority was ensuring that essential public services could still be delivered despite these operational changes. Everything was geared towards achieving this aim.

Now, with the benefit of those experiences and a better understanding of how these obstacles are best overcome, IT leaders within public sector organisations have the chance to take a step back and make strategic decisions on cloud strategy and transformation programmes. Cloud Gateway and Vysiion want to help IT leaders to understand what it takes to implement these changes and become a true Digital Pioneer in the public sector.

Cloud Gateway and Vysiion want to help public sector organisations to benchmark their cloud strategy and adoption against their peers and understand what it really takes to become a Digital Pioneer in their organisation in a post-Covid world.

Take the survey to share where you are in your journey and receive results to discover what steps to take to become a Digital Pioneer – or whether you’re already paving the way for others.