Government transformation: how we are overcoming key challenges and accelerating progress

The UK Government Transformation Strategy 2017 to 2020 was published in early 2017, and since then Citrix has been working closely with a cross section of public sector orgnisations, supporting them in the move from traditional infrastructure to more agile services such as Windows 10, Office 365 and public cloud.

The opportunity for such transformation is clear and will ultimately bring with it increased flexibility, security and productivity to central government teams, helping to create a truly mobilised workforce that will also attract the best talent. However, we are seeing many initiatives stall at the first hurdle due to a few common challenges, which we at Citrix are keen to resolve.

The challenge of integrating yesterday’s apps with the apps of tomorrow

With so many applications used today, often including legacy in-house applications developed many years ago, there is no guarantee that they will happily run on a dispersed Windows 10 estate, for example. There is also the overlooked challenge of “evergreen” IT and with Windows-as-a-Service and Office 365, updates are coming down the line at a higher cadence than ever and the application lifecycle just may not be compatible. There is also the challenge of applications that hold extremely sensitive data which cannot be distributed outside of the corporate network.

The reality is that existing applications will not be turned off overnight and need to be included within the transformation program. The Citrix solution, however, is simple: by decoupling the application from the endpoint, the department has greater control over lifecycle management and the guarantee that any changes to the device will not affect the application. It is also possible to enforce compliance for more sensitive applications.

Don’t forget the data!

With the shift to more cloud-based services, the natural step is to centralise control and access to data. Office 365 provides this through SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, but this is only one part of the data puzzle. With multiple locations to access data and different ways to share and collaborate, a myriad of security questions arise, and the user experience becomes extremely complicated.

The ideal solution is to offer a single application that can manage data in multiple locations while improving security and compliance, user experience and productivity. At Citrix that comes in the form of Citrix Content Collaboration. Data can be stored where it makes sense and employees are enabled to securely access and share data through a single application, even across mobile devices.

Controlling access to the internet

Access to the internet is paramount to a successful digital transformation program. On-premises and behind the corporate firewall, it is relatively simple to control internet access and make sure that nothing nasty is coming through to the endpoint. However, once outside of the corporate boundaries, it becomes much harder to control access to the internet. Requiring employees to connect back to the network via a clunky VPN just isn’t very practical and will put more strain on the network while providing a poor user experience.

The Citrix approach is to decouple internet browsing from the endpoint. Through context aware policies, government departments can redirect internet browsing to a cloud-hosted web browser session that is completely isolated from the device and network. This means that even if the browser session is compromised, the device will not be.

The case for Single Sign-on

Many public sector customers talk about giving the best user experience to their employees, but at Citrix we see this falling short in one key area. Even with a new Windows 10 device, access to leading collaboration tools and applications doesn’t guarantee a seamless user experience.

If employees are still having to authenticate multiple times when launching applications or services that may be accessed locally and remotely, there is a strong case for Single Sign-On. Once an employee authenticates, they shouldn’t have to authenticate again just because the application they launch has a different login mechanism. At Citrix, we provide that ‘glue’ between all apps and data.

There are a multitude of challenges faced by a public sector undergoing digital transformation, but they can all be overcome with the right support, combined with deep sector understanding. It is encouraging that government is motivated to leverage cloud-based services, and once the hurdles are addressed, progress will notably accelerate, bringing with it huge benefits for central government and citizens alike.

Learn more about the positive link between technology and productivity here.