Tight budgets, high expectations
The government of Canada acknowledges that citizens expect more digital services and have little patience for computer system crashes and balky IT performance. The federal government’s Strategic Plan for Information Management and Information Technology 2017 to 2021 spells this out in four central goals:
- Services should be simple, easy to access, digitally enabled, and seamlessly user-centric.
- Data should be shared and reused.
- Government interactions should be consistent.
- Services should cross jurisdictions—federal, provincial, territorial, municipal—where it makes sense.
The key to making all this happen is a cloud-first approach to technology, the federal government says. Government leaders acknowledge that the cloud offers improved scale and lower costs by switching from investing in expensive data centers to paying reliable monthly fees based on usage.
Government leaders also want to tap the potential of big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and other cutting-edge technologies. Cloud-hosted systems also will enable agencies to deliver always-on services to anybody using a mobile device that’s within cellphone or Wi-Fi range. Government employees and private citizens alike should benefit from these services.
Related: The CIO’s guide to finding your perfect fit for cloud computing
Strict security and privacy standards
Some government information is classified and cannot be made public. Healthcare data and private financial information must remain under lock and key. All systems must have robust cyber defense that isolates and segregates users, keeping intruders away from valuable private data.
Canadian legislation including the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) establish stringent guidelines for data governance. To thwart cybercriminals, agencies need to use encryption in transit and at rest, VPN for connecting to remote offices, and monitoring for signs of unauthorized traffic on government servers.
Government agencies of all sizes and in every province are understandably leery about ceding control of their data to third-party cloud providers. Fortunately, tech giants like Microsoft Azure, Amazon, Google, and IBM have taken security threats to heart. Their cloud services employ some of the best cyber defense experts, who are building and deploying ever-more sophisticated tools to identify intruders and prevent damaging data breaches.
As machine learning algorithms become more advanced, government IT departments will develop savvier ways to lock out intruders. These advances, coupled with public cloud providers’ strong incentive to keep their clouds secure, will help government agencies improve data governance and stymie cybercriminals.
Related: CIO field guide: How to successfully navigate a successful path to the cloud
Streamlining and consolidation of technology
The Canadian government identified five core challenges confronting IT leaders at the federal level:
- Inefficiencies through duplication of platforms.
- Incompatibility of systems and data models.
- Inconsistent service delivery and standards.
- Lack of information sharing.
- Inability to find information.
“This approach has led to complex, time-consuming, and costly client interactions with government,” Canada’s government says.
In response, Canada’s IT leaders are embarking on an enterprise-style computing model that aims to integrate all federal agencies under an umbrella of information management and information technology.
Cloud computing can help government agencies unify and centralize a vast array of computing services. Automation allows rapid deployment, updates, and support across the enterprise.
These innovations can help agencies bust technology logjams that forced them to wait months or even years to provision new technology services.
OnX helps governments transform public services
Using digital technologies to make government services more efficient and user-friendly is a painstaking process. You must focus on the specific needs of the public without neglecting compliance.
OnX is a certified Microsoft Azure reseller for Shared Services Canada. We earned this certification through years of collaboration on sophisticated government projects. Our relationship with Shared Services ensures we understand the depths of the challenges agencies face. Our IT experts can craft a cloud-based solution that makes citizens happy while controlling costs and meeting budget requirements.
OnX recommends Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform for government transformation in Canada. For more on Azure’s ability to modernize government IT operations, please download our free eBook.
Azure for governments: strategies for success
Related: How getting out of the data center business delivers exponential return on investment