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Orchestrating Cloud transformation

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These are interesting times for public sector ICT teams. On the one hand you have Government progressively moving the narrative towards ‘Cloud Native’ – an aspiration for ‘born in the Cloud’ applications that underpin new digital and paperless services for citizens, residents and patients. While on the other you still have many organisations just getting comfortable with the ‘Cloud First’ policy and embarking on the efficient and effective ‘lift and shift’ of current environments. They are on their Cloud journey but the Cloud Native push is extending that journey and introducing new destinations.

That might be less of an issue if the Cloud landscape hadn’t simultaneously become a lot more textured, with more options, scope – and risk.

Back in January 2017 the Government Digital Service effectively gave a green light for the public sector to start taking advantage of the public Cloud, with all its infinite elasticity, immediacy and economy. Since then, not only have Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google ably demonstrated what a good fit they are for enterprise organisations with big, expansive, continuous and diverse needs, but Azure Stack has also emerged as a rather compelling solution in its own right: this self-contained subset of its big brother is merely adding to the possible routes to Cloud-based transformation.

So in a relatively short timeframe, procurement and tech teams have gone from a fairly binary choice – on-premises or hosted/managed by a third party – to a more heterogeneous one predicated on today’s de facto IT model, hybrid Cloud. The overarching digital outcome may not have changed – optimum performance, optimum cost, optimum return for stakeholders – but how you get there successfully has.

For one thing, everyone has a slightly different starting position. For another, there are now multiple end points with multiple stops en route. And for another, for each individual organisation there are so many factors in play, so many different dynamics and moving pieces: from regulatory constraints to security mandates, legacy contracts to budgetary pressures, geographic limitations to application interdependencies, physical capacity to human resources, and a whole host of micro level influences that might affect the macro view.

Mapping that journey is today’s challenge. Taking everything on board, establishing where you want to go, and working out how best to get there – all in this new, unfamiliar, mazey world of hybrid Cloud where you have to plot carefully between on-premises, managed hosting, private Cloud, Azure Stack and the infinite realm of full public Cloud.

As the head of Redcentric’s recently created Cloud Transformation Practice, I’m fully aware that mapping that journey will demand a high level of diligence and exactitude. There are certainly no short cuts here. To modernise, to get to that Holy Grail of every workload being in the best possible place from a cost, performance, and security perspective, with flexibility and scalability wrapped around it, that will take meticulous planning, measured migration and continuous evaluation.

The difficulty for many within the public sector is that it’s a challenge they can only partially get a grip on. Imagine conductors being asked to suddenly lead not just one orchestra but five; it's sort of their skill set, but it isn't quite. It's making new demands that they understand but struggle to execute – especially when they’re playing what looks like a 3-dimensional score with only one baton! That’s cloud transformation for you – many, many different elements and issues, all intermingling, plus a myriad of routes and end points for your workloads: from doing nothing at all to going “serverless” lock, stock and barrel into public Cloud and pretty much anything in between.

Our Cloud Transformation Practice is there to basically help customers get a handle on this complexity. We’ve built a dedicated, cross-functional team that’s currently 30-strong, and it’s already heavily involved with both central and local government, and the NHS, helping clients make the right Cloud moves at the right time in the right way.

Now there’s nothing particular unique in our methodology – a very granular discovery, planning, delivery, management and evaluation approach – but what I feel does set us apart is that we’ve been working this from all angles. Our managed services work has kept us very close to clients and their particular drivers and pressures around IT modernisation; with much of our work inevitably bleeding out into private and public Cloud, including Azure Stack, we are hugely experienced at the technicalities around transition; and our early engagement with the likes of Microsoft and AWS mean that we have more mature skills and deeper understanding of how we best leverage public Cloud as part of a broader hybrid Cloud strategy.

All of that we can take to an organisation and help them map and execute their chosen route or routes. It’s not about making things simple – these are complex transitions – but it is about bringing clarity and certainty and assurance to the how, why, when, what, how much, how far and how quickly questions that any Cloud transformation program has to answer. We’re all about putting our hand on that baton and helping make harmonious transitions. That should be music to quite a few ears!

For more information, contact the team on 0800 983 2522 or email sayhello@redcentricplc.com.

Damon Crawford, Cloud Transformation Commercial Director at Redcentric

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