The cloud offers agility, accessibility and scale to public sector organisations, with IDC describing cloud as a key enabler for digital government, and Gartner predicting that over 75% of governments will operate more than half of workloads using hyperscale cloud service providers by 2025.

By Sina Mvoko, managing executive: public sector provincial and metro at BCX

Open Access Government says governments need to undergo a digital revolution in order to survive, but that talent gaps put them in a challenging predicament. For South Africa’s public sector, already lagging in terms of cloud adoption and optimisation, a lack of skilled resources is a serious concern.

Amid plans to undergo digital transformation and cloud migration, skills gaps threaten to put the brakes on progress. South Africa’s MICT (Media and ICT) SETA Sector Skills Plan 2023/24 notes that key skills gaps exist in the fields of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data analytics, 5G and internet of things, and these are set to grow as organisations forge ahead into the 4IR.

On cloud and Kubernetes skills it notes: “People with the skills to design and deploy such technology are in high demand and often poached not only in South Africa, but by global companies.”

Reports that skilled South Africans are now leaving the country in larger numbers add yet another challenge for those already grappling with high-level IT skills shortages.

The skills problem is not confined to South Africa, however. The new IBM Transformation Index: State of Cloud report commissioned by IBM and conducted by The Harris Poll found that 69% of international respondents lack the cloud skills they need to be proficient, more than a quarter say skills and talent shortages are impeding their business’s cloud objectives, and over one-third say a lack of technical skills is holding them back from integrating ecosystem partners into cloud environments.

Gartner notes that working with hyperscalers can alleviate talent and sustainability challenges.

BCX agrees. In practice, what we have seen among our customers in both the public and private sector is that the major benefit of working with a hyperscaler is that it frees organisations up to focus on their core activities, and not on managing a variety of IT systems, with different suppliers, and varying service level agreements.

Cloud computing providers are, by their nature, expert at managing and securing large numbers of servers, running multiple applications and needing to be available 24x7x365.

Of course, this addresses only part of the cloud skills challenge. Planning, building and managing the hybrid, multi-cloud environment requires specialised advisory, technical and implementation skills.

Collaboration with expert private sector partners gives public sector organisations access to the breadth of necessary cloud skills, without the challenge of recruitment, training and retention across multiple cloud disciplines.

With managed infrastructure and cloud services, public sector organisations gain access to industry experts specialising in the deployment and management of facilities, compute environments, storage, backup, cloud brokerage services, OEM technical services and disaster recovery services and cloud-centric networking across public, private and hybrid cloud.

Expert private sector partners can not only deploy and manage cloud environments but are also well positioned to serve as multi-cloud aggregators who can help organisations identify and migrate workloads to the most appropriate clouds for superior performance and economics.

For organisations concerned about data residency, expert managed cloud service providers will also implement a sovereign cloud with guaranteed local data residency. Crucially, these skills and services are backed by sound SLAs, at predictable costs.

This frees public sector organisations up to focus on service delivery and operations, without concerns about a lack of skills slowing digital transformation or putting business continuity at risk.