Your government agency can kickstart your move to cloud computing on the cheap – possibly without your users even noticing.
Photo credit: Ivan Cujic from Pexels
"Lift and Shift" Has Its Benefits
You keep hearing it: “Get on the cloud! Everyone’s doing it! It’s important for the future!”
And maybe you’re starting to agree. Benefits such as “enhanced security,” “unlimited storage,” and “responsive scalability” have a nice ring.
But you’re in government, and big changes take time. There are many stakeholders to keep happy, and any money you spend comes from taxpayers’ pockets.
Besides, you already have a lot of expensive software and an entire IT team working daily to keep it running smoothly.
Wouldn’t replacing your legacy systems with cloud-based solutions be costly and take forever?
The good news is you can kickstart your move to the cloud on the cheap – possibly without your users even noticing.
Run Your Existing Software From the Cloud
Your government agency probably already uses powerful technology.
Whether it’s financial management software, permit and licensing platforms, or citizen response services, most government activities are facilitated by software.
For a long time, these solutions were designed to be “centralized,” meaning when a staff person uses the application, they’re logging in to a server shared by people throughout the organization.
This is a great approach because it means everyone shares the same data. If someone adds or changes information, everyone sees the latest version.
The server that hosts the software and databases must physically exist somewhere, however. And typically, that server is sitting in a room in one of your buildings, taking up space, using electricity, and being maintained by folks employed by your agency.
Does the server have to be “on-premises” like this, though? Good question!
The answer is no.
Don't Replace, Relocate to Cloud Computing
Think about it: When you log into an application that’s sitting on the server downstairs, how are you connecting? With wires.
It’s just digital communication, which means with a wire long enough, you can put the server anywhere.
Enter: The Cloud.
There are endless definitions and descriptions of the cloud, but for our purposes, it’s a whole bunch of physical servers where you can store and access data.
It’s a glorified version of the server room in your building.
And the benefits of using a cloud server instead of your own are numerous.
First, you don’t have to maintain a cloud server. The company that provides the service does the maintenance for you.
That’s huge. Not only can you be confident that your server is up and running all the time (even at 3 am on a Saturday), you know it also has the most up-to-date security protections.
Wait, there’s more! With cloud hosting services, you pay for the data you use, which means if there’s not much activity, you pay less.
But if suddenly everyone in your town needs to fill out a specific form by tomorrow and they flood your website with requests, you also know the server will “scale up” to accommodate the huge influx and not crash.
Sounds great, right? So, what do you have to do?
Just “lift and shift.”
Lift and Shift? More Like Copy and Paste.
To take advantage of the cloud, you can “lift” your software from your server and “shift” it to a cloud server.
If you can replicate your current server setup on the cloud, you can be up and running in that new location with minimal disruption for your users.
That’s right: When you lift and shift, you can pull a stealth move and have your entire organization using the cloud without them even knowing it! Nothing has changed except where the software is running from.
Is Lift and Shift the Best? No - You Really Want SaaS
Moving your systems to the cloud as-is has benefits:
- Enhanced security
- Scalability in response to usage
- Reduced cost of maintaining on-premises hardware
- Diverting your IT staff expertise to other productive tasks
- Always up-to-date server technology
But the cloud offers so many more benefits, such as always up-to-date software. That’s right – you can always have the latest version of your solution.
Imagine making a ten-year software investment that, instead of becoming a “legacy system” you eventually need to replace, always has the latest features and functionality. This is a big deal, considering how rapidly technology changes these days.
But it’s only possible if you’re using what’s called “software as a service,” or SaaS.
(Hint: If you regularly have to prepare your organization for software upgrades that could break things, or you shut down services for maintenance, you’re not using SaaS.)
You're on the Cloud! Now What?
While it won’t take full advantage of the cloud, lifting and shifting can be an essential first step on your agency’s digital transformation journey.
The experience of lifting even one element of your software stack to the cloud can be a valuable shift in thinking and will prepare you for possible next steps.
You can either keep “lifting and shifting” components over to your new cloud service, or you can take the opportunity to add new services designed for the cloud.
Has your economic development department been crying out to contribute to a data aggregator? Are your residents demanding 24/7 access to bill payment services? Does your waste management team want to create an app?
You’ll find many of these solutions in the cloud, and it’s time to start connecting them.
Keep the Momentum Going with an iPaaS!
The idea of moving your government agency to the cloud can be overwhelming. But if you plan to take it step-by-step, it’s both manageable and exciting.
A fantastic way to keep momentum going is to achieve quick wins, and you can achieve many just by connecting your existing systems.
If folks are tired of exporting .csv files from one system only to email them to their desk mate so they can import them into another system, you can cheer them up with an integration.
You can make those systems talk to each other, so transferring that data happens automatically.
That’s just a simple example. How about the system you just shifted to the cloud? Why not get it to talk to the systems still on-premises?
This is all possible with integrations, and it’s easy with an integration platform as a service (iPaaS).
Vision33 has an iPaaS product called Saltbox that enables you to create and manage as many integrations as you want – with no technical expertise.
If you’d like to learn more about the Saltbox iPaaS, check out our webinar, “Accelerate Digital Transformation in Government.”