Moving away from ‘lift and shift’

Lift ‘n Shift, Hybrid or In-flight Transformation, which cloud migration is correct?

When working across the public sector, with organisations broadly in the same ‘business’, it’s hard not to think that it would be here, if anywhere, that a ‘one size fit’s all’ approach would apply to technology. Surely, they are providing similar services, within the same framework of legislation and policy and therefore they would have the same needs?

To some extent this is true, and there are technology vendors that have capitalised on that commonality. For example, the software for revenue and benefits, which is in use across the local authority sector. Equally since the public cloud native expectation by central government indicates that those familiar with the sector understand there is a benefit that can be felt by all.

However, even if providing broadly the same services, our experiences show us that no two organisations are the same. They will have invested significantly in different applications and infrastructure over the years, have an array of different contractual arrangements to honor. Perhaps, most importantly, there will be cultural and skills differences between one organisation and the next. Therefore, a project to transform will always be from a different starting point.

The roadmap that any CIO builds needs to be underpinned by an understanding of all of these nuances:

1. Know what you have.
This can be the hardest part but I cannot emphasis enough how important it is. A solid discovery of applications, infrastructure, skills and culture will lay the foundations for well-considered change. You can’t know how to get to your goal if you don’t know where you are starting from.

2. Understand upfront what responsibilities are yours, and take ownership of them, and what are your suppliers/partners.
For example, will they conduct a discovery exercise for you or do you need to provide a list of applications and where they are currently housed? A lack of clarity in this area can slow projects to a snail’s pace and waste time and money.

3. Know where you want to get to and by when, with key milestones along the way.
For a detailed plan to be built the discover piece will need to come first, however you should have a broad vision of the goals of change with senior stakeholder buy-in from the get go.

4. Think about how you are going to make existing assets work.
Without overly compromising the end vision. You’ll need a plan that brings existing asset to end of life at a good pace, whilst ‘sweating’ the value. It’s also important to realise from the start that not all applications will be able to be cloud hosted, and therefore there may need to be a longer roadmap for those assets.

5. Find quick wins.
However smooth a path, transformation will cause disruption. You will break things and you need to take the workforce with you on that journey. Quick wins such as Office 365 implementation, that are broad reaching and easy to see benefit from will help to win buy-in for further change. This can be seen as a “gateway application” to the cloud and instill confidence in your organisation that you’re on the right path

In the current technology and broader social political landscape it seems that there is nothing more constant than change. Public sector organisations, just like their private sector counterparts, need to be always looking to the next challenge and finding the right tools to enable better outcomes.

Our research and experience shows us that the public sector is lagging behind in technology adoption. This is a concern because PSOs have an even greater need to do more with less and wring the most out of every pound spent. That’s why we exist – to help close that gap.

Colm Blake

Colm is a Solutions Consultant with many years wide ranging experience within the IT industry. Whilst working on a large scale public sector project he worked on a cloud deployment and was instantly convinced that this was the future of our industry and promptly changed career path. At Jisc he works closely with our members and local authorities to clearly understand their needs and ensure that the platform produced will provide a cost effective and resilient service.

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