AWS Public Sector Blog

New AWS legacy transformation solution guide to identify, manage, and reduce legacy technology risk

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Citizens’ expectations of the public sector have risen over the last four years. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased demand for public sector support and services, with a wholesale shift to digital channels, online services, and omnichannel contact centers. Citizens expect public sector digital services to be as good as the online services they use every day to book travel, shop, or insure their cars. They also expect a high degree of resiliency and availability of those services.

Legacy, in its many forms, can undermine the ability of a public sector organization to respond to the high bar that citizens expect. Legacy technology can block the path to creating agile, modern online services, limit the flexibility to changing demand, and leave organizations vulnerable to cyber and physical threats. Legacy systems also incur significant cost. Governments spend millions to stand still, and the environmental impact of high-energy-consuming computers and data centers is money that could be spent on frontline citizen services. The cost of “keeping the lights on” for legacy in the UK government is estimated to be around 50 percent (or £2.3 billion) of current government spending on IT.

Despite the clear drivers to meet citizen expectations, save money, and protect the environment, mitigating legacy technology is a difficult problem to solve for public and commercial organizations alike. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to tackle the problem.

To support public sector organizations looking to remediate legacy concerns, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has created a solution guide for legacy transformation. This comprehensive solution guide will enable public sector organizations to reduce the risks and costs of managing legacy systems while lowering their IT carbon footprint by moving to the cloud.

When tackling legacy technology, customers are faced with a challenge in understanding the details of their overall technology landscape. They need to identify and prioritize the biggest risks and then build an approach to address those risks in a way that maintains services while delivering benefits in terms of agility and risk mitigation. Public sector organizations can use the AWS solution guide for legacy transformation to develop a structured plan to address legacy. This approach can be used by in-house technology leaders or jointly with outsourced service providers. In either situation, the first objective is to gain situational awareness of the current risk profile presented by legacy, the costs involved, and the remediation options that are available. This enables leaders to prioritize their efforts based on the best remediation option for the type of legacy challenge they have.

Many departments already build new services on AWS, enabling digital channels for citizens. The UK tax authority HMRC, for example, was able to deliver a nationwide scalable digital solution in just four weeks, paying out more than £69.3 billion and supporting the income of more than 11.7 million jobs as part of their COVID-19 response.

Customers have asked AWS for more prescriptive guidance on how to navigate the broad range of offerings that AWS and our partners have and then identify the best option to help them address their legacy IT. AWS Mainframe Modernization enables you to migrate, modernize, operate, and run mainframe workloads in AWS. Many public sector customers have migrated their mainframes to AWS for these reasons, including the UK Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which reduced costs 50 percent by moving to AWS; the U.S. Air Force, which saved a projected $25 million annually by moving to AWS; and Scholastic, which cut 40 percent off its IT costs and increased organizational agility by moving to AWS. The solution guide for legacy transformation brings together the tools, programs, and services from AWS and our partners to help you accelerate the pace of and reduce the risk of legacy modernization.

The remediation approach will be different depending on how the legacy technology is run (in-house or outsourced). However, once the remediation path has been identified, customers can use solutions like the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP). Here, customers can perform an initial discovery and business case development with tools like the Migration Evaluator or third-party tools, and engage AWS Professional Services or partners. This helps identify gaps along the six dimensions of the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF): business, process, people, platform, operations, and security. The assessment provides input to the business case, and plan for modernisation. It includes actions required to address the gaps identified as part of the AWS CAF assessment, which is refined during the mobilisation phase. Additionally, AWS Application Migration Service, the AWS Professional Services team, and AWS Migration Competency Partners can help you launch the large-scale migration plan developed during the mobilization phase. MAP provides tools that reduce costs and automate and accelerate execution. It tailors training approaches and content with expertise from our partners in the AWS Partner Network, a global partner community, and AWS investment.

“This represents a shift in gear to modernize and transform the large legacy footprint in the UK public sector,” said John Davies, director of AWS UK public sector. “AWS’s initiative will accelerate and incentivize our customers to migrate and modernize services. This initiative will help reduce the technical risk in critical government services and set government up to deliver world-leading digital services.”

The solution guide also recognizes that transformation requires a lot more than simply a change in technology platform. It includes guidance on how organizations can better enable operational and technical roles to use technology to deliver more secure, efficient, and enjoyable public services.

The UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), a long-time AWS customer, used AWS to modernize a number of externally facing services, building on technologies like serverless to minimize the overhead of operating these services and reduce the legacy risk arising from the older technology. Using a strategy of evolution rather than immediate change, DVLA is moving from front-end services to tackling core legacy systems, including the D90 mainframe system.

The AWS solution guide for legacy transformation is available to government customers globally. The AWS team will work directly with you and AWS Partner Network members of your choice to establish the best path forward toward your legacy modernization goals. Contact us to learn more and get started with the AWS legacy transformation solution guide.

Mike Beaven

Mike Beaven

Mike leads the international Central Government advisor team at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He has a combination of public and private-sector digital transformation experience spanning 20 years. He led the UK Government’s Digital Transformation programmes from 2011 to 2015 as part of the Government Digital Service (GDS) team within the Cabinet Office. This involved establishing agile ways of working, setting up commercial frameworks, and establishing a national cross-government programme that delivered 20 new digital services in 400 days.