Infrastructure > Cloud

Local government insight: Clearing the legacy IT hangover

Published 23 March 2018

Gareth Pawlett, chief information officer at Cheshire East Borough Council discusses how rationalising Legacy IT provides a platform for change at the council

 

Having taken the management of IT services back in-house in 2016 after a limited company jointly owned 50/50 by the two Councils arrangement, the priority for Pawlett has been to ensure that IT infrastructure can meet the business needs of the two councils they provide services to – Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester, as he explains:

Our ambition is eventually to move to a full cloud model for IT, or as far as is practical.

However, as is the case in many councils, the large number of legacy applications we manage and aging IT infrastructure creates quite a lot of complexity when it comes to planning how you can move forward.

For me, there is also the added challenge of running a shared IT service for two organisations and the fact that it was only brought in-house relatively recently after being run by an arms-length jointly owned provider for a number of years.

Having looked at our IT estate, it was clear that we are a very long way from being in a position where we could move significant areas of what we do into the cloud.

On one hand, we have a datacentre which we cannot leave for a number of years. That requires a lot of investment to ensure it delivers on the council’s business needs. On the other hand, we have substantial technical debt in our application estate which we have to address as a matter of urgency.

So, although we want to move to cloud, our business case has had to focus on getting us an IT estate which is resilient, where we have disaster recovery capability in place, and where we can be sure that we are compliant with key policy areas like data protection and GDPR which are critical given the data we handle.

To achieve that, we are building a hyper-converged environment within our own datacentre, replacing the most at-risk and underinvested parts of our infrastructure.

This is effectively a hybrid model of IT which we can use to buy time so we can better plan our cloud consumption. It may not be a full cloud model but we are already seeing it can change the way we deliver services to match what we might get from the cloud.

There is also a lot of work to do with our people. The reason we have a highly complex estate, is not because ICT has done that by design but because the businesses insisted on it.

To move forward effectively, we need to get both councils aligned in understanding where we need to go with our IT and what needs to change.

There is a job of education in the art of the possible and how we can help them with transformation and what the digital offering might and should be. We can’t move to the cloud without doing that.”

Cheshire East’s story is included in new Eduserv and Socitm research, “Local Government Cloud Adoption 2018”, which can be downloaded from this link

 








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