Cloudhouse’s Joe Ghattas discusses the challenges of not modernising from the perspective of public sector organisations
The continued pressure and lack of resources in place for public sector bodies have meant that many have avoided the time, risk, and resources that come with transformation and have instead chosen the perceived safety of the status quo, particularly in the context of application modernisation. The issue however is that the combination of tight budgets, external factors such as the pandemic, and the pace of technological change has placed pressure on legacy systems.
These systems can commonly be responsible for critical public services such as pensions, benefits, and healthcare, meaning any downtime can be potentially detrimental. In addition, Microsoft Extended Security Updates (ESUs) are creating a unique set of challenges for the sector.
The ESU Trap
To keep pace with change, public sector organisations need to look to new operating systems to support their operations. However, the cost of rehosting, rewriting, replacing, or refactoring applications for new systems are extensive, keeping to the current setup and moving on to ESUs is becoming a common strategy in both the public and private sectors. Previously covered by our Founder and CEO Mat Clothier in his previous blog, shifting to ESUs is an expensive venture, with rising costs year on year for those that don’t or can’t look for an alternative. For public sector bodies that might be running on a shoestring budget to provide many critical services, it’s a cost that they understandably want to avoid.
It’s not just the problems posed by ESUs however that make it critical for public sector organisations to act. There is also a range of additional hurdles, broken down into five additional categories:
- The need to maintain compliance with audits and regulations such as GDPR, with UK public sector bodies the main target of data breaches in the eight years preceding 2019
- Protection against evolving threats such as ransomware to ensure security posture
- Supporting evolving remote working requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic, with almost all 50 of the UK’s biggest employers saying that they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time
- The hurdles to achieving cloud migration, with businesses looking to these solutions for increased resilience and agility
- The combination of a rapidly diminishing talent pool for managing legacy applications, combined with outdated code and costly hardware is creating challenges in managing in-house legacy systems
It’s the combination of ESUs and these other challenges that make it critical for public sector organisations to modernise their applications for use on an updated operating system. Failing to do so can have a significant impact in terms of employee efficiency and the ability to serve the public quickly. App incompatibility can also lead to costly downtime with additional costs incurred to then get the app up and running. With operating systems and server editions also running on a finite lifecycle, organisations that fail to modernise their systems can be left behind as new editions are introduced.
The good news is that investment in legacy modernisation is growing, with the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) in the US providing an innovative funding vehicle to allow agencies to deliver public services more quickly, secure sensitive data, and use tax income more efficiently. Alongside this, the UK Government has published the Technology Code of Practice to help the government design, build and buy technology.
Cloudhouse’s Application Compatibility Packaging
With investment in public sector operations growing, organisations need to utilise available funds to invest wisely in new solutions to enable a move away from the growing cost of ESUs and avoid the other evolving risks in the industry. Cloudhouse specialises in enabling legacy critical applications to be preserved and shifted to a newer operating system via the use of our Application Compatibility Packaging solution, otherwise known as Cloudhouse Alchemy.
After lifting has taken place, the apps can then be optimised to work as normal on either an on-premise or cloud system. Think of it as cutting and pasting an application from the legacy system into the new environment, with the app continuing to run exactly as expected once implementation is complete.
For numerous years, the public sector has been forced to play catch-up with innovation, with envious glances in the direction of the private sector as many enterprises have moved forward with their digital transformation roadmaps. In today’s landscape, now is the time for public sector organisations to step up and prioritise application modernisation and security enhancements, or otherwise run the risk of failure.