Being Bold in the Public Sector

Written by Microsoft on 22 March 2016 in Sponsored Article
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Jumping out of a plane at 12,500 feet in the air can be seen either as bold or foolhardy – depending on whether or not you’ve got the right equipment. With a well packed parachute and the right training, you’re in for quite a bold adventure.

Jumping without the right parachute, or the right knowledge… well, let’s just say you can expect a very different outcome. 

In his recent wrap-up of the Government Digital Service conference, Sprint 16, GDS Executive Director Stephen Foreshew-Cain encouraged participants and observers to “be bold” in their approach to transforming government together. Given the success that GDS has seen in just a few short years, and the £450 million vote of confidence, there are many reasons to feel bold about the future of digital government. 

But the very definition of boldness implies a certain degree of risk. When dealing with the public funds, however, the idea of taking risks doesn’t really seem to part of our government’s remit. This creates a bit of a quandary: how can we boldly transform digital government while minimising the risk to the public trust? 

When creating a platform for new government services, it is crucial to do so with the right equipment in place. And when it comes to managing data, the lifeblood of any new government digital initiative, that equipment must have advanced security to protect your data, outstanding transactional performance. It also must be robust enough to manage huge data sets for advanced analytics, and make it simple to take advantage of the cloud. 

Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2016 

Microsoft SQL Server 2016 will help government organisations be bold in their approach to transforming government while minimising the risk. Representing the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history, SQL Server 2016 makes it possible for governments to capture, transform, and analyse any data, at any scale, in its native format—in a highly secure environment both on-premises and in the cloud. 

As Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft, has said, “Businesses and users are going to use technology only if they can trust it.” SQL Server 2016 delivers on that trust. In fact, it includes all the key capabilities government organisations need to transform the way they deliver new services. These include: 

  1. Advanced security: SQL Server has already been recognized by NIST as the enterprise database with the fewest security vulnerabilities for six years running. And to further enhance security on-premises and in the cloud, SQL Server 2016 includes a new layer of security called Always Encrypted. This feature keeps sensitive data such as national insurance numbers, NHS data, and credit card information encrypted even when it’s being used, meaning that if anyone tries to access it, it would look like gibberish. In addition, SQL Server 2016 includes Row Level Security, which enables users to restrict access to rows in a database table.
     
  2. Big data analytics: SQL Server 2016 offers real-time operational analytics and rich data visualizations. In addition, SQL Server 2016 expands the power to extract value from unstructured and structured data, while making it possible for government workers to gain faster insights through rich visualizations from Windows, iOS, and Android mobile devices.
     
  3. Breakthrough performance: SQL Server 2016 delivers blazing fast transactional performance. It features enhanced in-memory performance with up to 30 times faster transactions and up to 100 times faster queries than disk-based relational databases. It also offers enhanced AlwaysOn Availability Groups for even higher availability and better disaster recovery.
     
  4. Hybrid cloud scenarios: SQL Server 2016 makes it easier to manage data in a hybrid environment, meeting the emerging demands of government. With Stretch Database technology, governments can transparently and securely migrate the portions of their data they choose to the Microsoft Azure cloud—on-demand and without application changes. They can migrate both active and historical data to the cloud, allowing governments, for example, to cost-effectively store archived data that they’re required to keep for long periods of time. SQL Server 2016 includes new tools to make the migration easier, while delivering a consistent experience on-premises as well as in the cloud.

So go ahead, be bold 

Having the right systems in place won’t make it easy to be bold – that will certainly still require taking calculated risks and a lot of hard work and perseverance. In many ways it’s like jumping out of an aeroplane flying at 4 kilometres above the ground: it’s a leap of faith. But having the right systems to build on – in particular the right data platform – will make it easier for you to unleash your creativity and imagination and follow that sense of wider purpose that drives you forward in your mission to transform government. Sky’s the limit.

To find out more about how Microsoft can help you make the most of data, download our guide to unlocking organisational growth with data​

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