Cloud technology brings significant advantages for all organisations, not just businesses. Today, it is being increasingly adopted by both charities and the public sector, including local authorities, healthcare providers, universities and government agencies. Here, we’ll look at the financial savings and operational benefits it can offer, as well as how it can provide a better service to your end-users.
Even before the pandemic forced people to work at home, charities and public sector organisations were leading the way with remote working. While many charities have people working around the country and, in some instances, around the globe, the public sector was dealing with austerity by shrinking office space to cut costs and having employees work remotely several days of the week.
One of the benefits of the public cloud is that it enables your employees to work from wherever they have an internet connection. Here, they can log in to your system and access your applications and documents securely. What’s more, data is stored centrally, not on individual machines, meaning that it is kept secure and that everyone has the latest version of files and information available to them. Indeed, modern, cloud-based remote working solutions allow colleagues to collaborate, share work and hold meetings online, no matter where on the planet they are based.
The benefits of remote connectivity are many. For example, you can reduce the size of your office space, allow employees greater flexibility over their working arrangements, recruit employees from further afield and ensure things like bad weather don’t prevent staff from working.
Charities and the public sector both increasingly rely on IT services to carry out many of their day to day functions. Running IT on-site, however, can be a major financial burden, especially for organisations that need to reserve as much of their budgets as possible to deliver frontline services.
Cloud migration can help cut IT costs dramatically. The main reason for this is that, in the cloud, you will be hosting your applications and storing your data on hardware belonging to your IT vendor. This means you will no longer need to purchase, regularly upgrade and maintain those expensive servers. Nor will you need to pay for the ongoing costs of an in-house datacentre, such as premises rent, high energy bills, insurance or security. And of course, your in-house IT staff will no longer need to manage or maintain that hardware, giving them more time to work on projects that benefit the end-user.
Keeping data secure is an essential requirement for charities and the public sector, with organisations often handling sensitive information about individuals. Whilst a reticence to move this to the cloud can be understood, it is worth pointing out that the cloud is likely to be more secure than most in-house systems.
Unlike many charities and public sector organisations, cloud vendors invest significantly in cybersecurity to ensure they comply with their stringent security regulations. They employ security experts and deploy highly advanced security tools to keep their infrastructure and data secure. Indeed, even the datacentre premises are protected by robust security measures.
Additionally, the cloud allows all data to be centrally stored, enables organisations to implement strict logical control and access privileges and lets data be swiftly backed up, encrypted and integrity tested. For those requiring additional security, there is also the option of migrating to a private cloud, where a single client has dedicated use of their cloud infrastructure.
Often hosting critical, public-facing services, charities and public sector organisations need their applications to remain available for their staff and end-users. For those with in-house datacentres, server failure can be a significant issue, in some circumstances putting lives at risk. Bringing a server back online can be a timely and expensive procedure that causes prolonged disruption to your services.
In the cloud, your applications are run on virtual machines which means they are not tied to any physical hardware. If there is a hardware issue in a cloud datacentre, the virtual machine is simply and instantly moved to different physical hardware and continues without any downtime or disruption. With exceptional levels of uptime, guaranteed by SLA, the cloud offers the high availability needed to stay online.
One of the most sought after benefits of the cloud is its scalability. This is the ability of the charity or public sector organisation to use additional computing resources (storage, CPU, RAM and bandwidth) on-demand, at the click of a mouse.
There are two chief benefits of this. Firstly, is that it enables your organisation to cope with peaks in demand or heavy workloads, ensuring you don’t run out of IT resources when you need them most. For example, your website won’t crash if you get a massive spike in traffic, something which could be dangerous if dealing with an emergency situation.
The other benefit is the financial one. In the cloud, you will only pay for any additional resources as and when you need them, on a pay as you go basis. When demand reduces, you can scale down once again and save money. Achieving such scalability in-house would be difficult and expensive to do – you would need to purchase additional servers and leave them redundant just so they could be used in times of heavy demand.
Charities and public sector organisations are making increased use of the cloud to benefit in all the ways mentioned above. Indeed, the UK Government’s keenness to encourage cloud adoption has led to the launch of its G-Cloud. This is a marketplace of approved cloud vendors with framework agreements already in place, from which public sector organisations can buy services without needing to run a full tender or competition procurement process. eukhost is an approved G-Cloud supplier.