Hybrid cloud will be the future of UK public sector infrastructure

New research has found that a mixture of cloud and local infrastructure will continue to be the norm for the foreseeable future in the UK’s public sector.

Over half (53%) of 95 surveyed public sector organisations are using hybrid infrastructure, according to a freedom of information (FOI) request made to government departments, agencies, and public bodies by NetApp, a cloud-led, data-centric software provider.

This fact, along with the complexity of cloud services and existing infrastructure demands, implies that realistic and sensible planning is necessary for an agile environment that unlocks the cloud’s full potential.

Although the responses suggest notable progress toward cloud adoption, the majority of public service infrastructure is still on premise, with more than two-thirds of services currently less than 50% cloud-based. With 16% of respondents aiming to be fully cloud based in 3 years’ time, and petabytes (where 1PB is a million gigabytes) of data currently held on legacy systems, the inquiry suggests a hybrid environment for the foreseeable future.

Government priorities and challenges

When asked what the top priorities for cloud migration are and what public services must consider in their journey, 54% of respondents selected improved organisational agility. Agility in this case was described as “the ability to move data around and take advantage of new commercial or technological opportunities to optimise costs and improve services.” This need for smooth data portability and access is echoed by 46% of respondents, who selected “negating service interruption” as a key challenge for data strategy implementation. A further 32% highlighted the length of migration processes.

"These findings definitively show that the UK public sector will continue to operate in a hybrid environment over the medium term," said Tim Skinner, sales director of NetApp Public Sector. "As the UK’s public services strive to get the best out of both worlds – cloud and on premises – they must focus on optimising and truly integrating these various environments with one another. Not only can this drive significant cost savings and lay the foundations for delivering improved services, it will accelerate them in their journey towards the cloud.”

Other notable priorities and challenges identified include selecting operating-cost control and flexibility of service (43%), and prioritising staying up to date with the latest technologies (32%). 

"These findings demonstrate that progress has been made in realising the government’s Cloud First policy, but perhaps the hardest task is yet to come if the goals of the National Data Strategy are to be met," said Adrian Cooper, field CTO for NetApp Public Sector. "We recognise that the transition from complex legacy IT platforms to digital-first architectures will be a long-term endeavour, which is why we are working hard with our partners to build solutions which ‘bridge’ the old and new worlds. By creating a hybrid cloud data fabric rather than separate disconnected storage silos, public sector organisations can improve data mobility and sharing, reduce cloud consumption costs, and meet data compliance obligations."

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