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By Kam Bhatoa, Head of Government, BJSS
In July 2022, the Government Digital Service (GDS) announced it was planning to decommission its cloud hosting platform, GOV.UK PaaS, with a target retirement date of December 2023. The service was set up so public sector organisations could build good digital services without worrying about infrastructure.
Since its launch in 2012, GOV.UK PaaS has supported over 170 public sector services and has helped many government organisations modernise their services without having to take the leap of faith into public cloud.
In that time, global cloud service providers (CSP) such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, and GCP have continued to innovate as they reduce the barriers to entry for digital teams across the public sector. Even in-house teams have grown in both size and public cloud capability in the last few years. To add to that, public sector organisations are more confident that citizen data is securely stored in the cloud.
Now, organisations are left with a myriad of options and criteria to consider when deciding which route to take when migrating services and workloads from GOV.UK PaaS to a cloud provider. The most important step in this process will be the Discovery phase. This involves careful planning and consideration to understand where you are today and how to get to your future target state.
With that in mind, we take a look at three key considerations for any public sector body migrating live services to public cloud.
Consider your full cloud adoption strategy
Review your overall cloud adoption strategy and ask why you used GOV.UK PaaS in the first place. If it was because you had little to no capability in your in-house team, is this still the case? If your team has grown, can you design your next environment around your current capability?
Not every migration is a simple lift and shift, and it doesn’t need to be either. When modernising your IT infrastructure, it’s worth evaluating what cloud native services could help you get the most out of your cloud investment. Your cloud partner can help conduct a Well-Architected Review specific to your chosen platform to help understand your long-term strategic view for cloud adoption.
Understand the challenges of replicating GOV.UK PaaS capabilities in house
One key benefit of migrating from GOV.UK PaaS to another cloud provider is that you can consolidate your services and applications into a similar model, giving you control of your own estate and, more importantly, the power to grow your platform in line with your business goals.
But you need to understand what replicating those things in house looks like in practice. For example, early migrators will know that moving away from GOV.UK PaaS forces teams to think about their security posture, and what it means to manage this on your own platform.
GOV.UK PaaS has many out-of-the-box capabilities including DDoS protection, high availability, failover support and resilience. When creating your own platform, it’s important to consider how you can build these capabilities to the same standard and remain secure.
Many of these functions can be identified during a Well-Architected Review of your platform, but other things to consider are logging, reporting, alerting, and to reduce the risk to your business.
Migrate your data correctly
A little beyond the Discovery phase, data migration can be complex, especially if you’re moving from on-premises kit to the cloud, so it’s vital that you allow enough time to build data validation scripts. Run tests as many times as possible in different environments to make sure it migrates successfully.
It goes without saying that your citizens’ data is the number one thing to protect when migrating to the cloud. Taking the time to properly plan, test, and test again will reduce the risk of your citizen’s data being exposed or lost.
Given the level of complexity and challenge of moving off GOV.UK PaaS, organisations should take the first step in the cloud adoption journey - the Discovery phase - seriously, to ensure they're getting the same capability and value from their next environment.
Conducting the Discovery phase on a relatively small estate can take as long as six or seven months. With the GOV.UK PaaS decommissioning just around the corner, organisations should act now to ensure their digital public services and citizen data are secure.
Want to know more?
When it comes to cloud migration, planning is fundamental to success. Download this eBook to find out the six key considerations of the discovery phase of cloud migration.