Guest blog: Cloud – a magic bullet for legacy systems?

14 Aug 2015, 11:09 am

By James Norman, UK Public Sector CIO, EMC

Liverpool University Hospital

Liverpool University Hospital

Two recent surveys have raised some very interesting findings relating to the drive for more agile ICT and better digital-by-default services in the public sector.

One of these, ‘UK Public Sector driving efficiencies and digital aspirations with hybrid cloud’, published by EMC, reveals rapid adoption and implementation of public cloud (read coverage of the results on sister publication UKAuthority).

Of the public sector line-of-business (i.e. non-ICT personnel) workers surveyed, some 85% confirmed that public cloud services are being used now for back-up and recovery services, and in particular for hosting internal applications.

The second survey of almost 1,000 civil servants – Delivering Better Public Services Through Tech Survey, published by techUK, reveals that 75% see IT as a necessity and 86% of respondents said IT was critical to delivering business plans. Yet a study by the National Audit Office in 2013 revealed that at least £480 billion of government’s operating revenues were reliant to some extent on ageing, legacy IT.

These findings provide an interesting view of the challenges facing the public sector as it accelerates the drive to improve public services using more effective ICT at lower cost.

Firstly, public cloud is already an integral component of public sector ICT, despite some concerns regarding loss of productivity and reputational impact if public cloud services go down. Secondly, according to the techUK survey 71% of civil servants in key roles see internal culture as one of the biggest barriers to adoption, and over one-third of respondents involved in the design or procurement of IT services think that their department’s capabilities in change leadership, innovative thinking and digital capability are unsatisfactory or poor.

So although civil servants see ICT as key to delivering their mission, they doubt they have the right skills and culture within their departments to enable digital transformation of public services.

It may seem glib to simply state that the cloud is the ‘magic bullet’, but arguably it is. The real challenge may be more one of culture and expertise.

Empowering public sector line-of-business and ICT workers with a better understanding of the scope and limits of various forms of cloud technology – including public, private and hybrid – would certainly help to ensure that cloud is adopted with due diligence to the requirements for security, reliability and compliance.

Hybrid cloud solutions with fully integrated public and private cloud services can securely manage and take advantage of the data that flows across and between public sector organisations. They can bring scale and pace to the process of public service digital transformation and help increase the agility that the public sector needs to operate efficiently.

About James Norman

James has over 20 years’ experience within the NHS and Department of Health, holding many senior positions within Finance, Performance, Information and IT and was most recently the Director of IM&T at the Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospital. He was recognized as EHI ‘Healthcare IT champion of the year’ 2011, winner of ‘Outstanding work in IT-enabled Healthcare’ in 2012 and Thought leader of the year in 2013. James joined EMC in 2014.

About EMC

EMC Corporation is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service. Fundamental to this transformation is cloud computing. Through innovative products and services, EMC accelerates the journey to cloud computing, helping IT departments to store, manage, protect and analyze their most valuable asset — information — in a more agile, trusted and cost-efficient way. Find out more.