The rate of adoption of cloud services among central and local government, and other public sector bodies, is clearly on the increase, which is not surprising given the UK Govt Cloud First strategy. There are obvious benefits for organisations looking to reduce their expenditure and increase the flexibility of their IT infrastructures, so we are delighted to have been successful in our bid to maintain our supplier status on G Gloud 10. EDB Postgres has already helped public sector organisations achieve these goals working in partnership with the offerings of the major Cloud Service Providers such as Google MS Azure and AWS deployments.
Interestingly, recent research has shown that although the uptake of Cloud services has increased in the last year there is still a long way to go before the Cloud First strategy becomes universal in the Public Sector. A study by SolarWinds found that less than 30% of NHS and less than 61% of central Government departments have adopted any level of public cloud in their organisations. While separate research by Socitm found that although 62% of local authorities store data in the Cloud 85% of councils still run and manage their IT in-house. This presents a huge opportunity for the UK public sector to drive greater efficiency through the Cloud, but there are still key issues holding back its adoption.
The SolarWinds research said that legacy technology and supplier lock-in were the main obstacles to the adoption of the public cloud in central government, something echoed among local authorities who talk about the “legacy IT hangover.” Given the complexity of IT systems in the public sector, especially the customisation of applications, there are significant challenges extracting data from on premise applications. At a time of constrained budgets it is no surprise public sector bodies are being careful about how they unpick their existing IT infrastructures.
When thinking about the move to the Cloud, particularly for databases, the key consideration boils down to one thing – do you want to have complete control over your databases as you move to the Cloud? Most public sector organisations are considering Amazon or Microsoft Azure as their Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider and both of these vendors offer database options for customers in Cloud. Microsoft SQL Server is obviously well established, and Amazon RDS provides a lot of the functionality you would expect from the relational database, however, there are limitations in terms of the amount of control users have over the database. Amazon RDS is designed to be a vanilla database product and for public sector organisations that have built up many customisations over the years this could make it difficult to mirror all of the functionality they are used to; of course, it could be that using this scaled back version of the database enables organisations to simplify their database architectures, but for many public sector bodies they need to be able to access, manage and customise their databases according to their very specific requirements. This is possible with Amazon RDS, but it requires investment in advanced support, which adds to IT expenditures.
So, if you are considering the move to the Cloud as the opportunity to break free from Oracle, but still need the control that you have with your on premise database solution, what is the answer? We believe the answer is (of course!) using open source, in particular PostgreSQL. If you are looking to migrate from Oracle PostgreSQL makes it very easy for your DBAs to move data, because of the shared relational heritage with Oracle. Being based on open source also means you avoid the challenges of closed source systems, such as Microsoft SQL Server, especially when it comes to integrating data into the database application, because it is based on open standards. This helps to fulfil the need for flexibility, which the Cloud offers, however, moving to the Cloud does not avoid the need for the high availability and security that has always been demanded of such enterprise-class databases. This is where EDB can help, because it provides the tools, support and services, which allow customers to have far greater control over their database applications in the Cloud. Tools such as EDB Postgres Enterprise Manager allow DBAs to manage access and authorisation by role, as well as monitoring for performance issues. EDB Ark allows customers to spin up database instances in the Cloud rapidly and migrate data to and from your database application.
Therefore, as public sector bodies get ready to move to the Cloud there are three main questions they should be considering:
· Do you want to maintain control of your mission-critical databases?
· Are you looking for a full managed DBaaS?
· Do you understand how you are going to move your data from Oracle to Postgres?
We have a range of materials to help organisations on their path to the Cloud. One great starting point is “Which Postgres is right for me?” If you want to understand more about how you take control of your databases in the Cloud I can recommend this video and if you want to optimise your PostgreSQL database when using Amazon RDS this is a great resource.
Catherine Kiaie, Digital Transformation Lead Public Sector UK&I, EnterpriseDB