Bringing Town Hall to the Cloud: How Okta Helped Peterborough City Council Make the Move

The structure of your local town hall meetings – attendees presenting ideas, voicing opinions and airing grievances to elected officials – may not have changed much over the past decade, but it’s likely the structure of your local council’s IT has. Peterborough City Council’s certainly has. Peterborough City Council, the local authority of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, England, has certainly changed theirs.townhall Peterborough has over 180,000 residents, and the council employs 1,400 members of staff. The council runs everything from the bin collections, through to housing benefits, right through to adult social care, school admissions, education and many other services.

With huge budget pressures in the next couple of years, came the push to change the way the council works, and the consideration of a pure cloud strategy. We sat down with Richard Godfrey, ICT Manager at Peterborough City Council, to hear how Okta has increased collaboration, access and mobility for the Council.

What challenges did you face before implementing Okta?

We traditionally had a server room in the town hall, with around 300 servers operating – most of which were anywhere from five-to-seven years old, so really getting to the end of their lives. Some servers may have been up to 12 years old, so truly on their last legs. At the same time, identity management has always been an issue in the Council – you could walk around the building, pick up some mouse-mats and find passwords on Post-It notes hidden underneath. The reason people did this was because many of the systems we needed to use, each had an individual password. It was clear that we needed a single sign-on solution to secure our data, employee access and in general, make life easier.


How did you first hear about Okta?

Box was our first move to what I would call a “true cloud platform,” and Box recommended Okta. We looked through Okta’s product suite, and with their identity management service, we can have access to all the applications we need with one single password and sign-in.

What’s the biggest benefit you’ve seen since implementing Okta?

Knowing that Okta is taking control of the back-end and that it will be up and running at all times, helps us to work more effectively. The whole process is so much easier, and that means our IT staff doesn’t have to worry about how they’re going to control everything – they can instead focus on how the department can use the application, what they can do with it and what we can do to help our colleagues.

We’re also moving from a rigid file structure, that we’ve had for years and years, into a completely new way of working, which makes the process simple for employees and the rollout process easier for IT. In my opinion, the whole invisibility of Okta is the greatest benefit we’ve had.

Where do you seek ideas for your cloud strategy for Peterborough City Council?

We’re quite small here at the Council. Moving to the cloud is a big step, and there aren’t many authorities that have done it in the UK, so we are quite reliant on the expertise and local knowledge of customer success managers – which many American companies have adopted. We look towards the private sector to see what they’re doing, how they’re working, and the knowledge they bring, which is vital to delivering success via the cloud.