Breaking the shackles of legacy IT: Accelerating digital transformation in UK government with Identity

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have sparked a tsunami wave of digital transformation across the UK public sector. To allow government workers to become more agile in both how and where they work, and to eliminate surging cybersecurity threats while reducing IT spend, the modernisation of public sector infrastructure is a key priority.

But what barriers must UK government authorities overcome as they embark on their digital journeys, and what role does Identity play in easing their transition away from legacy systems? To help understand all the above, this post will explore the key IT and security challenges that arise when modernising public sector infrastructure, and what Okta can do to help solve them.

What’s driving digital transformation in the UK public sector?

Since the conversation around digital transformation within UK government first began, the primary focus has fallen on three key objectives:

  • Enabling cost-effective legacy retirement

    • To reduce surging legacy IT maintenance costs and increase competition with suppliers, government authorities initiated a plan to move their workloads into the cloud, using commodity services from a diverse range of providers rather than expensive solutions tailored for government.

  • Maintaining remote workforce service levels

    • To keep up with the ebb and flow of the pandemic, and to give the new hybrid workforce the freedom to work wherever works best, the public sector had to invest in new digital technologies that could adequately satisfy evolving demands.

  • Strengthen cybersecurity and delivering greater cyber assurance

    • ​​​​​​​To adapt to the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape and protect their data from ransomware and other cyberattacks, organisations in the public sector needed to adopt new, agile, best-of-breed security solutions that could close all gaps within their vulnerable IT systems.

What challenges does this create?

While many public sector organisations across the UK have already begun their digital journeys, various challenges that exist along the way have slowed down adoption. Here are some key examples:

  • Continued running of legacy systems intensifies cybersecurity risk

    • ​​​​​​​While the business case for retiring legacy systems can sometimes seem less attractive than continued running, CTOs in the public sector must consider the long-term risks involved. As well as driving up maintenance costs, many older legacy applications with weak, outdated security can drastically increase network vulnerabilities and are often the primary target for cybercriminals to attack.

  • Increasing technical debt & the creation of tomorrow’s legacy systems

    • ​​​​​​​Although the UK government has followed through on its plan to increase supplier competition and push forward on legacy retirement, its current strategy to build new services from scratch will likely lead to more complex problems further down the line. Rather than using commercial off-the-shelf Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), developing solutions in house increases the risk of building up even more technical debt and lays down the foundations for the legacy systems of tomorrow.

  • Growing reliance on big players weakens digital transformation strategies

    • ​​​​​​​Given the strength of the government’s early ambition to reduce its dependency on the 'oligopoly' of tech giants, it’s interesting to see how reliant the public sector remains on a limited group of market leading players. Though large tech suppliers can look attractive from a short-term cost perspective, as the government found with the large outsourcers a decade ago, such growing reliance is a strategic weakness and increases long term cost by locking out both competition and innovation.

  • Developing Identity solutions in-house can incur huge cost

    • ​​​​​​​Tackling the complex web of on-premises Identity and Access Management systems that many large organisations have developed over the years is another major challenge. While developing solutions in-house is an option that many government authorities will likely consider, the general lack of expertise and resources most in-house developers have when building complex Identity solutions places them at a significant disadvantage.

How can Okta help?

When it comes to choosing an Identity provider you can trust, few organisations can compete with Okta. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • A world leading reputation as a trusted Identity supplier

    • ​​​​​​​As the world’s #1 Identity and Access Management solution, as validated by Forrester, Okta is trusted by more than 14,000 customers worldwide, and our technical, operational, and financial strength means that we can offer a level of cyber assurance that's simply not possible with DIY. Moreover, as a cloud-native company, Okta can deliver immediate value to public sector authorities, no matter where they are in their digital transformation journey, and regardless of whether their existing systems are in the cloud or on-premises.

  • Minimises the risk and time needed to deliver Identity solution

    • ​​​​​​​Over the last 12 years, Okta has developed a rich and diverse Identity and Access Management platform filled with cutting-edge, market-leading apps and tools designed to solve Identity problems, fast. As well as reducing both the risk and time needed to deliver a working Identity solution, this option is also more financially sustainable for government organisations since everything - including security and performance upgrades, and a full product feature roadmap - is baked into the operating cost from the start. 

  • Speeds up Zero Trust adoption to increase cyber assurance

    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​For those that have already incorporated cybersecurity into their overall strategy and IT architecture, Okta is a fundamental enabler of zero trust. Our solutions provide a single view of Identity across all applications, vendors, devices, users, roles, and networks, enabling granular risk-based authentication across the entire network and helping organisations accelerate their digital transformations at scale.

For more information on how Okta can help accelerate digital transformation and strengthen IT security within evolving UK government networks, please reach out to one of our friendly specialists here.