Coventry City Council is in the process of increasing income and simultaneously making savings with the help of the cloud.
The local authority realised that this two pronged approach to regeneration was dependent on clever, efficient use of technology and IT to support its wider aims.
Coventry is aiming to use IT solutions to render processes more efficient and integrated; whether it is web pages or tools for staff, it is aiming to make better use of technology and make the right investments.
It hopes that by doing so, it can facilitate a modern, mobile workforce with increased agility and hot-desking capabilities.
Paul Ward, head of ICT strategy, systems and development at Coventry City Council told 24N that research into possible technology solutions for the organisation revealed that traditional datacentres were too costly.
The local authority turned to the cloud because it offered a flexible, scalable approach not offered by on premise solutions.
With a datacentre, Ward told us, you must estimate the maximum amount of space you require and pay for that, whereas with the cloud, you pay for what you use and adjust upwards or downwards accordingly.
The council took to the government’s G-Cloud procurement framework to find the authoritative advice it required on how migration to the cloud co incorporate unified communication tools, electronic document management and 24/7 self-serve systems alongside its planned move to a central building.
Because the authority current supports at least 600 systems, it was of vital importance that these were underpinned by a resilient and reliable infrastructure.
Expertise was required to explain how cloud technology could be tailored to support Coventry and advice regard the security of data in the cloud.
As a local authority, it has responsibility to go through a process of risk analysis in terms of data security alongside considering the financial benefits and implications of moving towards the cloud.
As Coventry Council was already using a number of Microsoft products, meaning staff were familiar with the user interface provided by the IT giant, opting for a Microsoft cloud solution seemed like a natural decision.
The local authority chose to work with end-to-end technology provider Trustmarque as this firm offered a number of advantages, including having offices based in Coventry.
The company engaged with the council in workshops over a number of days so it could get to grips with how Microsoft Azure could be integrated and utilised for maximum support alongside other Microsoft products in use.
Trustmarque’s previous experience also allowed it to discuss the risks and benefits associated with cloud migration with the local government body.
The workshops and discussions left Coventry Council in a well-informed position which will allow it to make the right investments in the future as the talks held worked through various scenarios.
By partnering with Trustmarque, Coventry has been able to utilise the potential of Microsoft products properly and move towards it aims of increasing income whilst decreasing costs.
One particular benefit for the local authority has been the elasticity the cloud provides. Ward explained that the council website is often hit by high bursts of activity, for example when adverse weather closes schools.
Providing the infrastructure to cope with this type of strike would have been too costly, but the new solutions can be scaled up when necessary and allows the website and services to be available when they are needed.
Coventry was also pleased to discover that the cloud was capable of providing the security the UK local authorities require.