The move to the cloud is still a hot topic, despite many years of debate. Indeed, a recent MariaDB survey of IT professionals found that 40% of respondents are accelerating cloud adoption now, with 51% planning to move more applications to the cloud. Interestingly the outliers in the survey tell a tale of cloud computing maturity. A significant percentage (39%) expect to be 100% in the cloud, but nearly a third (32%) of IT professionals are only just starting a move to the cloud.
Key benefits of cloud computing
There are a host of key cloud computing benefits that government and public sector organisations are looking to tap into. And while those may vary from the motivations of private enterprise, there are many common themes.
Arguably the greatest benefits of cloud computing in general are increased levels of efficiency and cost reduction. There’s no need to purchase expensive on-premise hardware, and no maintenance costs – beyond basic office desktops or laptops. This frees an organisation from extensive capital costs, as well as from hardware lifecycles and seasonal vendor sales cycles too. In the cloud environment, most costs are on an operational basis, while scalability is almost infinite. This is especially useful for seasonal spikes in service demand, for example.
Operating a decentralised cloud computing infrastructure also enables greater workforce mobility. This is a capability that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown to be an essential component of modern working environments, and one that will continue to be crucial in the future too.
In fact, this capability alone may well prove to be a major driver for organisations that are still mulling a move to cloud computing. With staff able to securely access files and media assets remotely, inside a collaborative platform, public bodies have been able to continue core services even with physical locations shuttered.
Disaster recovery and security baked in
Business continuity is only one benefit of the cloud, however. The cloud also plays into the world of disaster recovery in a wider context, especially in high-risk environmental areas, such as earthquake zones or even flooding. The UK floods in recent years have been responsible for considerable hardware damage and service outages. However, with cloud computing technology, there is often very little localised data to lose, even in the worst-case scenario.
Finally, data security can be applied across the board, allowing mandated standards and best practice to be automatically applied to all users and applications. Minimum UK Government requirements include encryption of data in transit to Transport Layer Security Version 1.2 (TLS v1.2), as well as ensuring that applications have been tested for common security vulnerabilities, such as those in the top ten Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) vulnerabilities list. Multi-factor authentication is mandated where technically possible, and best practice patch management should be in place.
Public sector cloud computing challenges
Indeed, it is often in the security and compliance area that complexities arise in public sector cloud provision, as stringent compliance and security measures are in place. These vary by sector and internationally too, but include FISMA, FIPS and FedRAMP mandates in the US.
Due to these requirements, the traditional approach has been to use on-premise solutions as much as possible. But this is a strategy that has been challenged in recent years. A good example of this is that Google signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UK Crown Commercial Service in June 2020. Additionally, Amazon Web Services already provides services to the Ministry of Justice and Microsoft has deals with the BBC and the Department of Education.
The process is getting smoother too. In the UK, the government operates a vetted Digital Marketplace, where suppliers go through an application process before being allowed to receive tender requests from Google Cloud (G-Cloud) suppliers and other digital service providers.
Proving ROI with a DAM
A key challenge for public sector organisations operating in a cloud environment is to prove ROI. While Governments and municipalities across the world rely on digital strategies and visual content to tell their stories, preserve their history and to connect with their citizens, it is often a convoluted journey to work internally and attribute credit where it is due. By using a compliant Digital Asset Management (DAM) system such as Imagen, organisations can track asset use and re-use much more easily. This ensures that internal workflows are optimised and that valuable assets remain discoverable, rather than forgotten in desk drawers.
A major attribute of a high-quality cloud DAM is the ability to easily add content; a factor that has a heavy impact on any large organisation’s workflow. By automating the ingestion of media, along with many aspects of tagging, indexing and adding metadata, a DAM can dramatically improve efficiency. And it can ensure that internal naming conventions and workflow specifics are observed.
The fact that content is better organised automatically means that internal teams are better equipped to exploit that content more effectively. Whether by responding quickly to relevant breaking news, or by joining key influencer conversations at the right moment, the ability to respond is more vital today than ever.
The scalability of cloud computing
In common with wider cloud service benefits, a cloud-based DAM is almost infinitely scalable. This capability is hugely valuable in the context of media assets; a class of data that might start off small, but will burgeon as the months pass. However, being able to start at the right level and grow as the organisation does is an important consideration – over-specification is rarely the most cost-effective strategy.
Overall the benefits of cloud services continue to win over public sector organisations of all stripes, and it is easy to see why. Moving away from on-premise solutions offers the potential to slash short-term costs, but the flexibility to accommodate whatever the future holds. Meanwhile, assuming configurations are correctly set up, the security concerns of past years have been assuaged. The benefits of cloud-based media management are numerous, but future responsiveness offers an edge that should not be ignored by any modern organisation, whether public or private.
Imagen is the perfect platform for collaborative, multi-agency video content production. Ideal for managing, distributing and protecting the archive, Imagen securely unites media stakeholders in cloud-based, low-friction workflows. Discover intuitive media management