What I learned about hybrid cloud at #ThinkGov2020

I have a confession: this may not be quite all I learned; it was 4 hours worth and my hand got tired taking notes!

ThinkGov Digital was the IBM conference for Federal in the US, which took place on 1st July. I attended to see what would be relevant to the UK; quite a lot it transpires. Here’s my interpretation of what I did capture:

As usual, Arvind Krishna’s keynote struck a chord with me. He recognised that it’s been tough for the public sector recently with social unrest and the rise of unemployment. COVID-19 has shown us that technology that enables innovation, speed and insight is of most importance. Technology platforms determine how well you pivot, serve citizens, scale and respond to a crisis. Naturally, hybrid cloud and AI drive that digital transformation.

Arvind Kirshna, IBM CEO

Focusing on hybrid cloud, Arvind talked of 4 imperatives that drive hybrid cloud: history, choice, physics and law.

On history, rarely do organisations start from scratch, certainly not in the public sector. Processes are well integrated into systems. The role of hybrid cloud is to meet you where you are not.

Re: choice, relying on one public cloud locks you in and locks you in to only one company’s innovation.

Physics <one of my favourite subjects at school as it happens> has a role too. You cannot run a robotic floor that needs swift response times through a cloud. Government may not run too many of those, but something that springs to mind is the need for the Met Office to run its intensive modelling on premises but use public cloud for its analysis and reporting.

And there’s law, the legal frameworks and sovereignty issues with which we need to comply. IBM provides the reliability and continuous security that government demands for mission critical workloads.

Arvind tells us we’ve made some bold bets:

  • We’ve joined forces with Red Hat to provide the platform that will enable you to build apps that will run anywhere
  • We are committed to interoperability
  • Some clouds are more suited for some workloads. We believe IBM is the best for regulated workloads.
  • Open is the foundation for IBM Cloud
  • We have 190 cloud native, open services that can run anywhere
  • We have start of the art cryptography, meet current standards such as FIPS 140-2
  • We allow you to Keep Your Own Key (for k8 apps) – you own your encryption keys and the HSMs that protect them.

Following some discussion on AI (I’ll probably blog about that another day), Arvind went on to state IBM’s commitments to you:

  • we’ll continue to deepen our understanding of your needs,
  • we’ll help you identify opportunities to deliver value to the people you serve, and
  • we’ll continue to be a leader and foster an entrepreneurial culture.

Naturally, Arvind spoke on more, but I’ll perhaps include that in a future blog…

A little later, in the “Future Proofing Government with Hybrid Cloud” session with Paul Smith, SVP and General Manager, Public Sector, Red Hat, his arguments extended Arvind’s message and included:

  • The technical debt that public sector is trying to deal with demands a hybrid, multi-cloud architecture < I would add that it also demands the ability to manage the heritage technology as well as the transition and target platforms>
  • What we offer is a foundation that allows you to move workloads anywhere you want any time you need <although I add that I don’t necessarily expect you to do that often!>
  • Not all clouds are equal; IBM’s is the most open and the most secure
My well-thumbed copy of The Cloud Playbook

I recently had the pleasure of digesting ‘The Cloud Playbook’ pulled together by the team behind the One Government Cloud Strategy here in the UK. Unsurprisingly, the messages overlap: lock-in, openness, and the challenges to transition. Building native digital services in cloud is not so hard, but transforming what’s left behind can be. We have some good ideas about how to do that – from a technology, skills and culture perspective. Do shout if you’d like to know more.

I learned a lot more at #ThinkGov2020 – on AI, automation and stories of which to be proud, so will share those here soon too.


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