There was an expectation from some businesses during the pandemic that everything would soon get back to normal. The health crisis enveloping the world would be difficult to navigate but fleeting, and workers would return to their desks in their droves once the worst had passed. However, as the conversation started switching to a so-called ‘new normal’, this outlook began to look naïve in its optimism.
A survey carried out at the beginning of 2021, roughly one year into the pandemic, found that 7 in 10 employees wanted flexible working options to stay as a permanent feature of their contract. In fact, many workers are quitting jobs that no longer offer the flexibility and work-life balance they enjoyed during the pandemic in what some sources are now referring to as The Great Resignation. Perhaps that’s why 66% of organizations are now redesigning their office space or downscaling in order to facilitate hybrid working long-term, causing commercial property investors around the world to start questioning their portfolios.
But this isn’t just a problem that impacts private organizations. The public sector is finding itself in exactly the same situation, tasked with making important decisions around cloud migration such as whether to leverage a public or private solution. But, as many businesses have learned over the years and particularly in the wake of the pandemic, the choice between public and private cloud might actually be the wrong question to ask. So-called ‘hybrid’ cloud solutions are gradually becoming the de-facto strategy of choice for businesses that want to balance operational costs with scalability, and the public sector is catching on quickly. In fact, recent research by NetApp found out that 53% of governmental departments, agencies, and public bodies are currently using a hybrid infrastructure that combines private cloud, public cloud and on-site hosting. So why is the hybrid cloud proving so popular? And why should more public sector institutions in particular be embracing it?
The post-pandemic IT landscape
For the past eighteen months, we’ve gotten used to the idea of remote working being a necessity rather than a luxury. The IT landscape has therefore changed as a result, with businesses having to come up with new security policies and mechanisms for handling data, new backup and recovery measures, and a way to distribute tools and computing resources in a flexible and agile way. Security, flexibility and agility are therefore key drivers to a more hybrid infrastructure, and we’re likely to see this push continue as we emerge from the pandemic and ‘reboot’ the economy. Here are five ways the public sector can benefit from a hybrid cloud strategy:
1. Virtualization of workflows
The virtualization of workflows isn’t a particularly novel concept, but doing it business-wide in a way that seamlessly and securely facilitates remote working, is. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), can host a desktop OS such as Windows or Linux from a local data center, and effectively ‘stream’ it directly to a user’s endpoint device. This allows users to interact with the OS and any installed software as if it were running locally, without the need for a high-end device. A hybrid cloud is perfect for facilitating the rapid rollout of VDI access when ‘cloud bursts’ – such as the one caused by the pandemic, are needed.
2. Flexible solution
Just as no business could have planned for the pandemic, no business can possibly know exactly what’s around the corner. They may need to tap into greater data management needs to meet a new business initiative, or push a short-term project into the public cloud to temporarily take advantage of extra computing. Hybrid gives businesses this flexibility.
3. Scalable infrastructure
Going all-in on a private cloud can result in hefty CapEx and OpEx layouts, and doing the same with a public cloud can leave you vulnerable when it comes to security and compliance. Tapping into a hybrid or multi-cloud solution from the get-go can ensure your business always has the right balance between the two, allowing you to scale in a balanced and effective way.
4. Enhanced data security and compliance
A public cloud solution is convenient and cost-effective, but it does come with drawbacks on its own. Many public cloud providers, for instance, would rather you deal with your data security and compliance objectives in a so-called ‘shared responsibility’ model. Therefore, if a business handles sensitive data like medical records or customers’ financial data, they’d be better off tapping into a private cloud via a hybrid approach.
5. Reduced costs and legacy hardware
When an organization uses a hybrid cloud solution, there’s no huge upfront cost to pay because there’s no hardware to install on-premise. Because everything’s cloud-based, that means your business can benefit from more space in the office or even work ‘nomad’ style with an entirely distributed team. There’s no legacy hardware to maintain or replace, as all of the patching and upgrades are done server-side and are the responsibility of your hosting provider.
Virtualization of workflows and enhanced data security and compliance are boxes that the public sector will need to tick in 2021 and beyond. Given that the public sector is becoming an increasingly lucrative target for cybercriminals, public sector organizations will be looking to maximize their productivity in the cloud and make it as easy as possible for their teams without compromising on cost-effectiveness or security. Hybrid clouds can tick all of these boxes and more.