Has the Public Sector Embraced Cloud-based SaaS?
10/02/2020 |

Has the Public Sector Embraced Cloud-based SaaS?

The public sector has been slowly moving towards
cloud-based SaaS solutions. Learn about
steps providers take to address common questions

the earth by night from above
The reality is that control does not disappear when working with a SaaS.

In the public sector, the need to maximize operational efficiency is as critical as in the private sector since citizens rely on a variety of public services to take care of themselves, their families and their communities. From medical care to paying utility bills, citizens are demanding the modern services that they are used to receiving from private sector businesses: They want 24/7 availability and the utmost security for their personal information. Yet, budgets are rarely as robust as in the private sector and bottlenecks are often caused by bureaucracy. This leaves public sector IT leaders struggling to strike the right balance.

One IT trend that increasingly offers solutions to the public sector is cloud-based software as a service (SaaS). In this case, software is hosted by a vendor which frees the technology team from the costs and effort involved in system or equipment maintenance and infrastructure spending. It also allows the technology team flexibility to buy only enough services as needed so that they can increase or reduce their usage far more easily, and it opens the door to shared services among agencies.

While public sector organizations have been tip-toeing into this space, it's fair to say that the transition has been cautious.

While public sector organizations have been tip-toeing into this space, it’s fair to say that the transition has been cautious.

Integration with Legacy Systems

Among their top concerns are legacy systems. Older out-of-date applications had been challenging to integrate with more modern technologies. For a long time, doing so required teams with specialized skills who understood older data formats and could deliver customized integrations. Fortunately, most modern solutions, like OTRS, incorporate an API that provides technical groups with easier integration options. This allows teams to incorporate newer, more modern tools today, while still taking the necessary time to adapt or retire legacy systems.

Data Security Requirements in the Public Sector

Certainly, security and compliance concerns strike the public sector too. Sensitive personally identifiable information passes through their systems at breakneck speed — retirement funds, healthcare coverage, medical information, political information, tax data and more. In most countries, the public sector is responsible for providing a variety of sensitive services and uses our data to do so. Strict data requirements must be followed to keep citizens safe.

Fortunately, one of the benefits of working with SaaS solutions is that patches and security updates are routinely applied by the provider, typically making SaaS solutions even more secure than on-premise options.

Fortunately, one of the benefits of working with SaaS solutions is that patches and security updates are routinely applied by the provider, typically making SaaS solutions even more secure than on-premise options.

Of course, public sector IT teams must also comply with a variety of regulations too, and SaaS solution providers aim to help in this regard. For us, I can say that in Germany OTRS is hosted in a private cloud that has ISO 27001, PCI-DSS (Level 1 provider), SSAE16 and SOC1 certifications and that the fully managed environment operates in accordance with GDPR requirements. Data security is a top priority at OTRS Group and for many other companies who provide SaaS.

Certainly, it’s a matter of due diligence when you’re investigating SaaS options, but today’s providers recognize how critical this issue is and should be willing to offer the necessary assurances to public sector teams.

Loss of Control

With on-premise or legacy systems, software is managed in-house. This means that everything from data access to customization are handled by an internal team and can be changed whenever needed.

The reality is that this type of control does not disappear when working with a SaaS. Reputable providers will ensure that your data is your data and will provide written verification that your team has the right to change, delete, or manage the data at will. In addition, administrative controls are easily accessed and always available to internal IT teams.

Certainly the question of customization will vary from provider to provider. At OTRS Group, we recognize how critical it is that the solution match your workflows, so we have a team of experts available to swiftly address customization needs. Working in this way actually benefits your IT team because the skills needed to customize the solution have been honed by the service provider’s employees, ensuring that a skill gap doesn’t create a bottleneck when you try to adapt the solution to your needs.

So, are we there yet? Has the public sector embraced cloud-based SaaS? Certainly not at the same rate as the private sector, but it’s only a matter of time. The needs for constant availability, scalability and reduced costs won’t go away; and, one option for addressing these is moving to such a solution. This is no longer a novel option: It is becoming a necessity for modern IT organizations. Fortunately, as time has passed, concerns have been addressed by most modern solution providers, so we’ll continue to see more and more public sector companies taking advantage of cloud-based SaaS benefits this year and beyond.