Across the globe, public sector agencies are rapidly switching from On-Prem solutions to cloud solutions like Microsoft Azure to reap its excellent benefits. Be it healthcare, education, or government organizations, the public sector uses cloud computing solutions to be more efficient, save costs, and improve their service delivery.
While implementing Microsoft Azure definitely brings about myriads of advantages, there are also considerable challenges that public sector enterprises go through. Since the public sector contains sensitive public data, there are more significant risks of data breaches.
Here are some of the main benefits and challenges that come along with implementation of Microsoft Azure for the public sector:
Benefits of Implementing Microsoft Azure:
1. Seamless Collaboration between services
Microsoft Azure is a flexible platform that allows different services to synergize seamlessly together.
Microsoft Power BI is a business analytics service that supports a wide range of data connectors when you create a data source.
Similarly, Microsoft Power Automate is another Azure technology that allows you to automate time-consuming, repetitive tasks such as notification sorting, sending mass emails, alerting, data collection, pinging, and so on.
Let’s say you want to conduct a feedback survey by sending an email to a large amount of audience containing questions. For this, you create a Microsoft SharePoint List. Through Power Automate, you can automate a workflow that will automatically send mass emails to this audience containing response buttons.
As recipients click these buttons, new records will be recorded in a separate Microsoft SharePoint list. To get invaluable insights from the survey, you can use Microsoft Power BI to derive and analyze the survey results. This is an excellent example of how 3 Microsoft platforms viz. Power BI, SharePoint, and Power Automate can synergize seamlessly to simplify your workflows and improve employee productivity.
Another great thing is that most of these tools come with ready-to-use templates, and it also recommends apps that can be linked for various purposes.
2. No worries about Hardware
Organizations are bound to pay high expenses in order to maintain and upgrade virtual and hardware infrastructure to prevent downtime and failures. Such maintenance is not only expensive but also quite time-consuming and tedious. Further, if any problem arises, organizations need to get in touch with manufacturer support for troubleshooting.
As organizations scale with time, their virtual infrastructure also requires modifications and meticulous configurations to adapt to the growing needs. Since Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service, you don’t have to worry about virtual or hardware issues whatsoever.
3. Enhanced Stability
Microsoft Azure allows you to increase infrastructure resources as per your organization’s growing requirements. This is possible even without causing any downtime. It regularly updates a solution’s resources as per the peak times and growing demands.
Furthermore, Microsoft regularly backs up Azure data with their top-notch practice standards. So, if a solution requires going to its previous state, you can easily restore it on-demand.
Besides, Azure offers excellent stability and uptime. This is assured by their claim to offer 10% service credit if uptime is less than 99.9% and 25% service credit if it is less than 99%. Such robust SLA (Service Level Agreement) alone proves their confidence to provide you with the best service.
4 . Robust Security
Security is one of the core components that directly affect the performance and efficiency of organizations. Often, security tasks related to software and On-Prem hardware are time-consuming. Besides, every organization does not have an expert security team to monitor systems and tackle security issues. Enterprises that do have a security team might only do the job of scanning the solutions and servers for any vulnerability. For security measures, they might heavily depend upon server or solution providers.
But Microsoft Azure has a dedicated team of experts whose sole job is to ensure robust security of data centers, services, and hardware using top-tier security measures.
Such robust security is highly beneficial for public sector agencies, as they store sensitive public data and services in the cloud.
5. Quick Updates
Gone are the days when organizations spent long periods to update the hardware and software systems. The whole process was quite hindering for On-Prem operations as well as fairly time-consuming.
Agencies scheduled downtime on the weekends or after-hours where teams updated the system. This approach makes it difficult to test the influence of updates on all services and solutions across an organization, resulting in bugs or unexpected errors.
On the contrary, Microsoft Azure does not cause any downtime when it updates the solutions, all credits to their infrastructure strategy. Their services are all always up-to-date with the latest release. 6
Azure has developed infrastructures specifically tailored to suit compliance and security requirements of government entities. Some of which are Microsoft 365 for the U.S Government, Azure Government, and Dynamic 365 CRM Online Government- all of these provide support for over 72 compliance frameworks.
Challenges in Implementing Microsoft Azure:
1. Drastic change in infrastructure
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing solution that is drastically different from On-Prem infrastructure. On-Prem systems scale up as per organizations’ needs, but Azure has the ability to “scale-out.”
Scaling up is like getting high-power processing hardware for a solution when you need more computing power.
Scaling out is to expand the processing power within a cluster of hardware, and you can increase or decrease it as per your needs.
The concept of scaling out is definitely more cost-effective, flexible, and agile for the public sector in the long run. For this, the infrastructure change will be drastic!
For example, your services will be shifted to Azure, but not servers. Your reporting solutions will be moved to Microsoft Power BI, while the data centers built-in SQL Server will shift into Azure Synapse. All of these Microsoft services demand individual migrations, comprising their processes. And carrying out these migrations requires an in-depth understanding of Azure platform and support from Microsoft experts.
2. Overlap of On-Prem and Azure
Migrating your services into Azure can be challenging at some point, especially when there's an Azure and On-Prem overlap. This situation arises when you’ve implemented Azure, but some of your content is still stored On-Prem. Such overlap can be confusing for end users, hard to maintain for solution providers, and less cost-effective as well.
3. Data Governance
Since public sector agencies store sensitive public data, they raise concerns over cloud computing solutions’ accountability and ownership. This often includes questions over management of resources, who will pay for shared services, the new organizational approach, and so on.
4. Lack of Azure Options for Every Solution
Every single of your solutions cannot have an alternative Microsoft Azure service. For example, Azure does not have SaaS for Reporting Services.
5. Understanding Azure Licensing strategy
Just like Azure demands a drastic change in infrastructure, it might also cause licensing hurdles. Your IT teams might face licensing issues with every progress they make.
Azure’s licensing strategies are very different than On-Prem systems, and it requires involved teams such as developers and admins to understand Azure licensing well.
6. Difference in Service Feature
Azure cloud infrastructure is way more different than On-Prem, and thus its operations also differ majorly. Operations that are seen as standard and best for a long period in On-Prem might not necessarily work in Azure at all.