Opinion

It pays for public sector entities to shift to hybrid cloud

Ganesh Iyer | Updated on July 02, 2021

For public sector organisations that deal with immense volumes of data on a routine basis, hybrid cloud environment offers the dual benefits of security and simplicity as also scalable infrastructure that can easily support heavy workloads

Dependability, reliability and consistency are not friends of change. So, when a year that changed everything came along thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, technology teams had to adjust rapidly as workforces went remote and businesses scrambled to keep their services running to serve their customers in new ways.

The challenge was even more remarkable for IT teams in the public sector, which had been managing change slowly and cautiously for years. Suddenly, public sector teams had to scramble to adapt to new ways of working. Services based on public cloud infrastructure, remote working and other technology approaches that had been avoided had to be switched on almost overnight.

Some of these changes have brought a wave of innovation to the public sector. According to our latest Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) report, nearly half of public sector agencies, globally, said they had no employees working remotely in 2019. Now, just 4 per cent say they will go back to their pre-pandemic technology plans once the situation is under control.

Elevating the role of technology

Digital transformation makes it simpler for diverse government agencies to work in partnership, resulting in better programmes and services for citizens. In this digital era, cloud services have emerged as a critical component for managing operations — 70 per cent of public sector organisations said the pandemic cause IT to be viewed more strategically in their organisations, according to our recent ECI report.

In India, for example, the government has embarked upon the ‘GI Cloud’ or ‘MeghRaj’ initiative. The goal of this programme is to improve the speed with which electronic services are delivered in the country and to optimise Information and Communication Technology (ICT) spending. The programme will utilise and harness the benefits of cloud computing, boost infrastructure utilisation and speed up the development and implementation of e-government apps.

The focus is now on open technical standards and solutions that offer flexibility rather than a technology lock-in approach at various levels. This is required due to past experience of getting locked-in with a particular technology or vendor, thereby limiting choice, price discovery and coexistence.

The impact of cloud and digital transformation in government services has been extremely powerful. This has been more evident in certain individual States which have modernized their IT and adopted multicloud architectures to revolutionize citizen services. Citizens no longer need to travel far distances to their closest government office to obtain primary records- they are now able to securely access data directly from the cloud.  This proved to be a great boon during the pandemic as it helped contain the spread of infection by preventing in-person contact while ensuring Government services were delivered without disruption.

Cloud infrastructure is also being used to handle very large volumes of data in the country. The Indian railway network for instance, which transports over 20 million passengers per day, relies on their private cloud system RailCloud to enable e-ticketing and cut down delays for travellers.

Striking the right balance

Of course, public sector agencies often work within strict parameters and need to find a way to walk the tightrope between security and flexibility. In balancing the needs of their departments, government technology teams need to look at what is most appropriate to stay on premises and in a private cloud (back-end data) and what needs to live in a public cloud (applications). Unified management services can connect both clouds, and technology teams can easily manage and are in control of the services they provide.

Part of the shift to hybrid cloud means letting go of centralised legacy systems and architecture. In 2019, 53 per cent of global public sector organisations ran, exclusively, traditional, non-cloud-enabled data centres. In 2020, that percentage dropped to 22 per cent. And the trend toward hybrid cloud is expected to continue.

In India, the government has announced a focus on the digital payments ecosystem, moving on from cash-based systems and creating a new way for citizens and businesses to interact. With its flexibility and data protection capacity, hybrid cloud could easily be part of that solution.

Setting up for the future

A wave of innovation has swept through the public sector. This is an opportunity for agencies to make technology decisions that will have lasting, post-pandemic benefits, bringing the public sector in line with the speed of the private sector. For public sector organisations in India which deal with immense volumes of data on a routine basis, hybrid cloud has emerged as the preferred IT environment.

Dual benefits of security and simplicity that hybrid cloud environments offer provide a scalable infrastructure that can easily support heavy workloads during crucial periods. More public sector organisations are recognising the value in focussed technological investment across various projects and key initiatives.

The public sector has come through a whirlwind year of change, adapting at breakneck speed and positioning itself to deliver stronger economic outcomes. By adopting approaches used in the private sector and finding solutions like hybrid cloud to let innovation occur without compromising their data, the public sector is helping to chart a way forward for all of us.

The writer is Business Head, Government and Public Sector, Nutanix India

Published on July 01, 2021

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