As government transitions to digital first solutions in engaging with and providing services to its citizens, it needs to reach everywhere, connect everyone and integrate everything. To achieve this, government needs to be at the digital edge to connect people, locations, cloud infrastructure and data fast and securely.
“The public sector, much like the private sector, has quickly realised that digital engagement with their counterparts and consumers is largely unavoidable and that doing so effectively requires a departure from the past,” Don Wiggins, Senior Global Solutions Architect with Equinix, explained.
Sophisticated applications combined with “exponential” data collection, he said, is helping to drive the growth in demand of real-time analytics supporting internal and external government decision making. The speed and scale required to deliver digital government services needs physical adjacency to clouds, networks and service partners.
But the traditional IT architecture that exists in government agencies can be decades old or more – and these legacy systems can be a barrier in providing the responsive and secure services in the digital age.
“A stove-piped isolation approach is no longer sustainable,” Wiggins said.
New IT architecture and platforms need to support a digital-first government require global location coverage, private interconnection, and the capability to integrate, standardise and simplify control. Cloud services, API-based platforms and other external services are increasingly becoming the go-to solutions for government to fill the capability and infrastructure void that exists.
But as demand increases, the market for options and services is expanding with more flexible options that can be optimised over time to keep pace with rapid change.
The core business of an agency still needs to be at the centre of their decision in going digital, and it needs to be responsive. Service providers need to provide fast, highly scalable and pay-as-you-go solutions that integrate new functionality as it is required.
And to get the most out of these services, there needs to be a solution in between to help government manage services providers, re-architect applications, and enable digital intelligence.
Bridging the digital divide
Data centres and whole-of-government hosting strategies have been part of the Australian government landscape since 2010. But the adoption of cloud solutions has been slow, with the government transition not keeping pace with public demand and the market. New hosting strategies promoted by the Digital Transformation Agency are supporting greater choice in service providers — and this is helping to support a rapidly expanding digital government landscape.
Equinix is a provider of digital enabling solutions. From its history in providing telecom peering exchange and colocation solutions, it now services a growing need of optimising global interconnection. Through Platform Equinix, government clients have access to a cloud ecosystem with direct access to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud – as well as government-hosted clouds centres.
The approach provides choice and control for the digital future of their clients – and concerns of security, performance and vendor lock-in become a thing of the past.
Interconnection is the focus of these enabling platforms. The digital audience can access multiple clouds and consume services as needed, from where needed. And agencies can scale seamlessly and provision new services as demand changes — with pay-as-you-grow models making solutions affordable.
This was the case with Yarra City Council who have embarked on a cloud first journey.
Over 100 legacy systems existed within the local council, and in 2014 the cost in time and money of managing these became too much. A digital transformation strategy was established to update their IT architecture and enable a better customer experience.
Yarra City Council deployed their new architecture inside a Melbourne-based data centre that provided security and performance guarantees. But it also enabled them a bridge to interconnect with business partners and service providers, as well as migrate their staff to Office 365 and roll out a range of other software applications including Oracle’s cloud-based customer request system.
The hybrid cloud strategy they have implemented has enabled the council to rapidly respond to needs. It can now roll out services almost overnight. Previously it took eight months. And this responsive IT architecture has helped them to future proof their systems – and will ensure they remain responsive to the changing digital demands from both internal and external stakeholders.