Andy Tait, Head of Strategy, UK Government and Public Services at VMware
Cloud computing has had a major impact on IT over the last few years. While it’s been slower to adopt than the private sector, a recent study from EMC, VCE and VMware revealed that 85% of UK public sector organisations are now using public cloud in their IT services portfolio, with more than a third (34 percent) citing affordability as their reason for doing so.
Yet, the research indicates that many public sector organisations are using the public cloud without the right security procedures. According to the research, almost two-thirds (60 percent) of public sector IT decision makers use some form of public cloud services whether approved by IT security or not. This is of great concern in a sector in which data security should be of paramount importance. This contrasts dramatically with the benefits of adopting the hybrid cloud, where IT departments can instead gain easy access to cloud services, but in a controlled, compliant manner. What’s more, with the increased challenges associated with placing citizen data overseas the ideal hybrid cloud service has to ensure its datacentres are based in the UK, so organisations can rest assured that their data is safely and robustly stored within national borders.
Clearly, however, the public sector has very specific challenges around data and applications. It deals with vast amounts of sensitive information, from health records through to police reports and international security. It needs to adhere to regulations and legislations around data and privacy, restricting what and where data can be stored and processed in a public cloud environment.
So can the public sector truly benefit from all the scalability and efficiency of the cloud, while meeting these requirements?
The answer is yes, and the best approach is through adopting hybrid cloud. Hybrid is a unified integration between private and public cloud services, enabling the seamless movement of applications and data between the two environments, using exactly the same tools, processes and most importantly security policies deployed within the existing private datacentre. It’s completely changing the way organisations think about their IT infrastructure.
Consider the seasonal demand for passport applications or disaster recovery to ensure crucial citizen-facing systems do not fail: consuming public cloud capacity only as required means you don’t need expensive servers standing idle for most of the year. Instead, you get instant access to compute power, when you need it, while significantly reducing costs.
Hybrid cloud also enables innovation; as the public sector continues to move more of its services online, creating Test and Dev environments in the public cloud means only paying for IT when it’s needed. The rise of true hybrid cloud solutions means that the public sector can now take advantage of the agility and flexibility of public cloud with the security and familiarity of existing technologies.
Hybrid Cloud is the most efficient combination of solutions because:
|Hardware||Clouds are highly efficient on hardware and if you are consuming public Cloud element, then you are buying, maintaining or updating any of the hardware.|
|Software||The licencing model for the public cloud means you are only paying for software when you use it|
|Skills||With seamless use of the same management tools your hybrid cloud looks just like you in house private cloud and no-one needs to retrain to make it work.|
|Security||Security is assured. Your in house security policies are containerised around your workload as they move out to the Cloud. Microsegmentation provides the most secure environment, with individual workload firewalling for the first time at an economically viable cost.|
|Consumption based pricing||Simply pay for what you use and pay nothing when you are not using it. Have enormous capacity available, but not bear any of the month by month costs of owning the hardware.|
|DRaaS||You don’t need to have a complete copy of your entire production environment sitting doing nothing, with your natural desire that that you never have to use it, and a lack of confidence it will work when you do.DRaaS form the cloud delivers the solution as it should be.|
|Dev and Test||Old style Dev and Test environment require large amounts of equipment to be physically stood up and maintained in readiness for any bug fixes or new enhancements. Using the software defined nature of the cloud, you can almost instantly re-provision any stored environment use it for a while and then tear it down again.|