Agenda item

Azure Move to the Cloud

To consider the attached report.



The report author, S Jennings introduced the report on the future strategy for IT for EFDC, based on recommendations to our Corporate Strategy and Government Strategies for IT within public bodies. The report outlined where we were at present and the cost for the replacement hardware for the Council. At present we have a data centre housed in the Civic offices and this was now coming up to its 5-year renewal, and there will be costs for the replacement of hardware and cooling system. Epping Forest District Council digitisation strategic plan includes standardising its infrastructure and services to a cloud first strategy. As such this project will create a cloud platform that supports the longer-term digital ambitions of the council.


The Government advice was to move where we could to the Cloud and not have a single point of failure, i.e. if our data centre was destroyed by fire then the council would be completely without any IT structure. Better to have it in the cloud. This would be for our core services and not for the Housing or Planning systems. The report went into detail on how we would carry out this process and included the costings for the project.


Councillor Hadley said there did not seem to be any end user training with this new system. He was told that the move would not change anything for users, they would remain the same.


Councillor Hadley said that some apps were not very good in the cloud such as Excel or graphic packages. It was also dependent on the internet connection. These things need to be taken into account. He was told that the core applications such as Microsoft office and email will remail on corporate devices as there could be a lag. The core office suite would remain on a device. The benefits would be managing a device from the cloud as opposed to from a data centre. It was much more beneficial than from a data centre. Also, as we have the majority of people working from home now, we are almost in a cloud environment anyway. A lot of the applications that we will be moving to were designed to be used in the cloud and minimised as much as possible the effect of the internet, so there should not be a major issue with performance. Councillor Hadley noted that the potential risks did not fully come over in the report.


Councillor S Kane said that what was changing was where the data was stored and how it was delivered and not the end use. Councillor Philip said that there seemed to be a degree of confusion between hosting the servers in the cloud and the software. Everything else would be the same.


Councillor S Patel noticed the project plan has a phased waterfall approach; was there a reason this was chosen over an agile one. S Jennings did not know quite what the Councillor wanted to know. The Chairman noted that a written answer could be given and perhaps the question be clarified outside the meeting.


Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked how they could make sure that they could support all the business-as-usual stuff as they migrated to the cloud while having enough resources to manage both strands.  He was told that a large proportion of work would be carried out by our preferred partner (Agilisys) assisted by some of our IT officers. Initially the services would remain in our data centre but will be copied across to the Azure environment and tested as a parallel system to minimise any risks.




The Select Committee noted and commented on the Azure Business Case and to awarding a contract to Agilisys for the procurement and provision of Azure – Move to the Cloud.



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