Why we are moving registration to the cloud

In 2019, Registers of Scotland (RoS) set out a transformative strategy outlining why cloud could support our corporate vision of becoming a ‘digital registration and information business, trusted for its integrity’. In this blog – which is the first in a short series about our cloud journey – our Head of IT Service Paul Christie sets out why we decided to move to the cloud and how the right service was chosen.

What is the cloud?

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services – servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more – over the internet i.e. ‘the cloud’. As you typically only pay for services used, the cloud can help businesses to become more agile, innovate at speed and lower operating costs.

A simple way of looking at it is that cloud providers offer resources that are effectively rented. In a similar way to a rented property, it is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure and the responsibility of the tenant to decorate and maintain the interior.

Why RoS embarked on the cloud journey

RoS decided to embark upon its cloud journey for two main reasons.

First, it has been clear for a while that cloud computing is where the digital industry is headed so as an organisation with significant digital ambitions, we wanted to make sure that we weren’t left behind.

Second, rather than managing all the nuts and bolts that incur overheads, moving to the cloud allows organisations to focus more on the value-add elements of software development. This will enable RoS to better realise the benefits of our products and services.

At RoS, we have traditionally operated an on-premise delivery model where all aspects of infrastructure management – including power, cooling, hardware and configuration – sit under our control. We liked that a move to the cloud would allow us to adopt a shared responsibility model. This means that we can better serve customer demand and don’t have to worry about many of the digital maintenance activities required to keep the lights on – non-value-add activities.

Adopting principles

One of our main considerations in moving to the cloud was that we didn’t have a specific project in mind. Instead, we wanted to embed cloud-use enablement as a mechanism to support our overarching service alignment team whose task is to develop a medium to long term operating model for RoS to be a more service aligned and sustainable organisation.

To help with this, we created four guiding principles to ensure that any decision relating to our cloud adoption would:

  • Accelerate the realisation of business and customer value
  • Improve resilience and security
  • Consolidate our digital estate; and
  • Reduce the overall lifetime cost of ownership

These were used to help us assess which delivery model would be most appropriate. While there are several delivery models available when considering cloud, we looked at two in particular:

  • Software as a Service (Saas) –SaaS is a method of delivering commodity services over the internet – as a service. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it via the internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management. Some examples of SaaS usage within RoS is the online visual collaboration platform Miro, the technology intelligence platform SNOW and Microsoft Teams. Going forward, RoS will leverage SaaS more and more for commodity requirements
  • Platform and Function as a Service (PaaS/FaaS) – PaaS and FaaS is the delivery of computing services – servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more – all of the things which need to be in place, just to begin developing software. This delivery model will be used to simplify and accelerate RoS’ unique and bespoke software development – i.e. applications that are specific to RoS. A good and recent example of where we have used this model of cloud is the new Cloud hosted Register of Judgments and Deed Search Tool – we will be covering this in more detail in a blog later in this series.

Next time

In our next blog in the series, Paul will outline lessons learned from our cloud journey so far.

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