Last week I went to an Amazon Web Services (AWS) event about digital skills. There was lots of discussion about the difference in the skills needed for traditional IT and cloud technology. Given the huge growth in cloud technology, the skills gap is bigger than many people think.
Parliament embarked on its cloud strategy long before I joined Parliament and before the Parliamentary Digital Service was even formed. In 2013 the decision was made to move some services to Microsoft Office 365. Fast forward to 2017 and there’s still a lot of traditional IT in server rooms running Parliament’s critical applications and services. I’m always surprised how many organisations still insist on using traditional IT, assuming it's less risky. When really the greater risk is to stand still.
No more big IT
With the pressure of reducing costs and continuous demand for innovation, traditional IT is no longer sustainable. Parliament also faces the challenge that thousands of its users might be moving following the proposed move out of the Palace of Westminster. This coupled with the drive towards smarter, flexible working means we need more agility in how our digital services are delivered.
Our aim therefore is to move everything to the cloud, not just some services. But it won't be easy. We’re taking an iterative approach to move legacy applications to an environment that these systems were never made for. This needs a cultural change in our teams. We need to experiment, fail fast and learn continuously.
This is where the skills come in. Simply moving systems into the cloud and running duplicates of the old world is not cloud. That's just hosting. Cloud means using a wide range of capabilities that can be switched off, switched on, transported, reimagined and transformed. It’s that transformation that we’re about to start.
A lot of the ground work has already been done and the migration of over 150 Parliamentary applications has started to ramp up. Our teams are already having to learn new project management skills (agile) and technical skills (cloud). We now need to understand how to use the new tools available so the real value can be gained from cloud services. It's all about thinking differently about things. Especially those things that have been done the same way since IBM launched the first industrial PC in 1984.
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