Infrastructure > Cloud

Local government insight: The Early Adopter of Cloud

Published 29 March 2018

Cloud First approach underpins Aylesbury Vale District Council’s transformation


In recent years, Aylesbury Vale District Council has won recognition for its use of technology in transforming the way it works and how it delivers council services. According to IT Strategy Manager, Maryvonne Hassall, a ‘cloud first’ IT strategy has played a key part in enabling the changes it wanted to make:

The ‘cloud first’ strategy we put in place seven years ago meant that every time we looked at a new system or that an old IT system came up for renewal, we would look first at finding a suitable cloud version. This has led to the migration of the bulk of our services into the cloud. Email and line-of-business applications were prioritised first and the services and applications which were left over were moved into Amazon Web Services.

We’ve been quite aggressive in the way we have done this, compromising on some systems which were not perfect for our needs but which allowed us to move to the cloud.

This has left us in a good place technically and, as a small organisation, the resilience we get from the likes of Amazon is vastly superior to what we could deliver in-house without more staff.

Our next priority is to make the data usable. Because it sits on a number of different systems, we are currently working on connecting the data together so we can create a single point of view for our customers and gather information to improve the way we deal with them. Our goal is to identify customer behaviour and get on the front foot in predicting what the customer wants and anticipate other services they might need.

Our attitude to IT is that unlike in the past, you can’t simply invest and then maintain what you have got, it requires an ongoing focus and you can’t stand still. You need an eye on the future, assessing what is and isn’t working today as well as actively finding the areas of your IT infrastructure you can switch off.

This is reflected in three project streams we are running across the council. The first is an innovation stream where we are pushing the boundaries with new things like artificial intelligence. The second is about transformation, where we’re looking at which applications and processes we need for our business to make sure they are working for us. The last one is about legacy decommissioning, looking at the things which are holding us back and preventing process.

We are making good progress as a council and that is down to a number of factors.

It is certainly helpful that it hasn’t been a case of the IT department saying what should be done and then getting people to do it.

The changes we are making have support from the senior leadership team and the members: it is a council-wide initiative.

Linked to that is the investment we have made in bringing people with us, in culture change, to support what we want to do as a council. Together that has created a platform for change which would not otherwise have been there.

The important point is that even after seven years of what you might call a ‘cloud first’ approach to IT, we definitely haven’t finished and we still have a lot more work we need to do.

Maryvonne Hassall is IT Strategy Manager at Aylesbury Vale District Council and was one of the panel of IT leaders contributing to new research on cloud adoption conducted by Eduserv and Socitm


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