Benefits of cloud computing for government

Technology explored

This article is part of our 'Future of cloud computing' series.  Click here  to learn more about cloud computing, and it's impact on the modern workplace.

Cloud computing explained

What is the Cloud?

Before we list the benefits of cloud computing for government, let's go back to basics for a moment. The cloud is a system for transporting and delivering files or data between locations via the internet.

If that's old news to you, then feel free to skip ahead, but we'll just take a second to explain what that means for anyone unfamiliar with the concept.

The easiest way to understand the cloud is to think about how individuals all use it most commonly - storage. 

Through services like OneDrive, iCloud and Google Drive, we store files on internet-connected servers that we can access remotely through our smart devices. But we never actually see or interact with the server directly.

For us as end-users, we simply use the internet to access the files on those servers and interact with them as though they're saved directly to our mobile, tablet or laptop. That's the cloud at work.

So, what is cloud computing?

With cloud computing, you’re still accessing something on an internet-connected server. The only difference is that you’d use a programme like Azure Virtual Desktop to access a virtual desktop instead of a file.

If you’re not sure what a virtual desktop is, here’s a quick explainer video:

What is Virtual Desktop [EiS]


Things definitely get a lot more complicated than that in a professional setting, but that's all you really need to understand before we talk about the benefits of cloud computing for government in 2021.

Benefits of cloud computing for government staff

  • 🚴 Support for mobile work: In Microsoft’s 2021 survey of 30,000 global workers, most said they want to keep a flexible working model after lockdown eases.
    Suppose hybrid-work became the new normal in UK government. In that case, a key benefit of cloud computing is that it gives government workers secure access to a powerful desktop from any location or device. And once 5G becomes more widely available
    , government cloud computing on the move will be even more productive.
  • ⚡ Stream a more powerful PC, from your PC: With cloud computing, staff can stream access to more powerful hardware from the hardware they use at home - all without the need for a new computer.
  • 🔋 Tailored compute power: Users will never have to worry about slow load times, endless buffering or crashes as part of their daily workload. With cloud computing, every user can access a desktop with power tailored to their exact needs.

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Benefits of cloud computing for government IT teams

  • 🛡️ Security: With desktops hosted in a remote server, Government IT departments have much more centralised control over desktop access, applications and sensitive data. 
  • 💾 Disaster recovery: Platforms like Microsoft Azure offer end-to-end backup and disaster recovery services. That means that government services can recover from service disruption, accidental deletion or corruption of data quickly and keep down-time to an absolute minimum. 
  • ⏩ Efficiency: Managing a single virtual desktop takes a lot less time than dozens of staff laptops. With automatic updates, you never have to worry about chasing your office to run an update again. 
  • 🖥️ Low-cost upgrade to a modern desktop: With Microsoft Azure, all virtual desktops get Windows 10 access as standard. That means a Hosted Virtual Desktop services, like Modern Desktop on Demand, are a low-cost way to upgrade an office to a modern Windows desktop. With it, you pay a flat, rolling monthly fee to access a faster, more secure operating system without the need to pay an expensive license fee upfront.

 Benefits of cloud computing for different levels of government in   2021 

Benefits of cloud computing for local government 

Cost savings and better performance

Case study: London Borough of Waltham Forest

When the ageing hardware in Waltham Forest's managed data centre needed a refresh, government leadership saw an opportunity to modernise with a cloud infrastructure.

Waltham Forest chose Microsoft Azure as its platform for many reasons. One was to make the upgrade to Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 easy. With them, staff collaboration and productivity improved day-to-day.

Waltham Forest - quote

Another was to improve the performance of legacy processes - particularly the council tax and benefits system.

The system needed to update every night, but ran too slowly on old equipment. Too often, the system wouldn't finish updating by morning and would create operational issues that day. 

One of the benefits of cloud computing for the government is that offices can add more compute power to systems on-demand. Just by running the system through Windows Virtual Desktop and Azure, Waltham Forest can dedicate more cloud resource to this system at night and make sure that the updates finish before work starts the next day. 

On the project, Simon Copsey, Assistant Director ICT Operations at London Borough of Waltham Forest, said: “There is no doubt that having our Microsoft 365 and OneDrive data in the cloud was a critical performance factor. Staff working from home could go direct to Microsoft without traversing our network. This meant business applications accessed through our network experienced no latency."

Project outcomes

Cloud computing in local government - Waltham Forect outcomes

 

Benefits of cloud computing for national government 

Creating a happier, more productive workplace

Case study: The Welsh Government

The Welsh Government used cloud computing to deliver a citizen-focused Digital Wales and support a happier, more productive workforce.

As you can imagine, security is a priority for any government office that plans to store sensitive data in the cloud. Thankfully, this made it easy for The Welsh Government to choose a cloud platform - Microsoft Azure was the only product on the market that met all of their security requirements. 

Still, the Welsh Government takes the same stance on security as we do - effective protection isn’t there to lock workers down. 

Instead, it frees workers to work safely from any device or location (in this case, with Azure Virtual Desktop).

Based on this 2021 Microsoft survey of 31,000 workers, that flexibility is what workers need to maintain their mental wellbeing in the modern workplace. 

For context, here’s a snapshot of ‘digital intensity’ in 2021:

Digital Intensity in 2021

To balance these digital demands, 70% of survey respondents want the freedom to work from anywhere and manage their own work/life balance. In 2021, that’s one of the major benefits of cloud computing for government. 

Project outcomes

Cloud computing in local government -The Welsh Government

 

Benefits of cloud computing for central government 

Access to modern digital technologies

Case study: The UK Home Office

With an ambition to deliver the digital future of Government services, The UK Home Office used cloud computing to support its transformation goals.

Sometimes the biggest benefit of cloud migration is what it can help you do next. For the UK Home Office, cloud computing opened the doors for office automation to boost service efficiency.

UK Home Office quote

Every month since the migration, the Immigration technology team can now process:

  • ✔️ 5,000 priority biometric cases;
  • ✔️ 3,000 biometric travel documents;
  • ✔️ 44,000 biometric residence permits;
  • ✔️ 8,000 initial accommodation cases.

Project outcomes

Benefits of cloud computing in government - Home Office stats

 

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