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AWS Direct Connect: CRM Digital Transformation in the Public Sector


Recently rolled out in Ireland, AWS Direct Connect enables linking existing government networks to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The Direct Connect networking service allows public sector departments to access AWS, including the cloud, without using the internet. Instead, data is sent via a private network connection between departmental facilities and AWS.

At Provident CRM, we’ve implemented AWS Direct Connect projects for clients including NHS Scotland and the Irish government. It brings to the table benefits across rapidity, responsiveness, security, service provision and cost-effectiveness — yet we see that awareness of its benefits and availability is still low! We’re aiming to address that here, sharing AWS Direct Connect’s key advantages, as well as two of our client use cases.



Advantages of AWS Direct Connect

1. Roll out applications faster
For government ICT departments (and business users), Amazon provides the capability to get applications up and running more rapidly. This extends beyond having your virtual server on Amazon, rather than in a VMware environment managed by your local government department’s IT team. It also enables consuming Amazon services that are available within the AWS stack, such as Lambda and S3. These become accessible to government users and also enable providing applications faster to citizens via AWS.

2. Enhance security while maintaining existing firewalls
Whereas governments already widely use AWS for public-facing services (brochures, websites, and so on), confidential and internal systems for public sector workers have largely remained behind firewall applications. In the era of remote working, whether that means within the same building as the employee or in an AWS data centre becomes irrelevant. What is vital is that these systems are securely behind a firewall — in which Amazon has proven its effectiveness and reliability for over a decade in its USA service provision. With AWS Direct Connect, government departments can maintain their existing firewall infrastructure, simply linking AWS services to current locations.

Legacy public sector on-premise solutions also tend to run outdated security software, lacking easy, regular patching capability. In the cloud, however, patching is close to real-time. When a security patch is made available, it can be applied to the cloud environment almost immediately.

In addition, security guarantees are built in through Amazon’s certifications. The right controls are implemented, the data-hosting environment is audited regularly and AWS Direct Connect adds an extra security layer via virtual private gateways. Working with an ISO 27001-certified SaaS provider such as Provident CRM further solidifies ongoing peace of mind regarding security and audits, as part of our standard cloud service package. These safeguards enable public sector teams to concentrate on their core business of providing optimised citizen service, not time-consuming concerns about the IT nuances of business transformation applications. 

3. Consume diverse cloud services
Beyond migrating their data to the cloud, public sector departments can consume myriad cloud services via AWS. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and tools such as Lambda become available, that aren’t accessible in traditional government IT environments.

These options broaden the horizon of service provision for citizens, enhancing quality, responsiveness and accessibility. Setting up the capability to send citizens SMS notifications, for example, can be a tough task with older government IT. With AWS, by contrast, this is a straightforward add-on service. Likewise, AWS email delivery can be enabled in just a few clicks. This bypasses concerns and delays due to provider sourcing and older infrastructure’s limiting capabilities, enhancing the potential of public sector digital transformation and cloud-based initiatives.

4. Stop citizen-facing websites crashing at peak times
Many citizen-centric services face rare, instantaneous loads; tax return deadlines, for example. With only a finite number of servers available for a particular service, government websites risk crashing due to overloads at these critical times. With AWS, however, you can anticipate peak use cases and auto-scale accordingly — flexibly, rapidly and with only a temporary cost increase. No need to pay for peak-load infrastructure year-round; simply auto-scale as needed to eliminate IT fire-fighting and improve citizens’ user experience.

5. Support employees to stay connected, even while WFH
With the transition from fully in-office to flexible and remote working patterns, it’s vital employees retain and enhance their access to updated, accurate data. This change in the labour landscape is prompting timely reconsiderations of how public sector teams can best house and provide their data. If it’s already accessed daily via the internet, why not use the cloud to store it? AWS Direct Connect enables transferring large business-critical data sets directly from your data centre, office, etc. into and from AWS, bypassing the need to purchase expensive bandwidth increases from your service provider and avoiding network congestion.

6. Easy integrations with SugarCRM
Amazon Connect, Amazon’s best-in-class omnichannel contact centre, is closely integrated with SugarCRM, one of our digital transformation partners at Provident CRM. Amazon Connect is a leading solution for public sector departments to provide and enhance omnichannel customer engagement via the cloud, in particular through deploying Sugar Serve (SugarCRM’s customer support solution) and SugarLive (integrating live chats and phone calls into SugarCRM) using AWS.




Use case: Migrating NHS Scotland services from BT data centres to AWS
The Provident CRM team supported NHS Scotland to evolve from working with servers managed by BT to consuming a cloud-based application. This enabled lower-cost, faster delivery for multiple patient-facing solutions, including the musculoskeletal service, SMS patient reminders, cancer care treatment line, Breathing Space suicide support line and Living Life CBT phone service.

Our implementation ensured there was no disruption to these services’ daily function, with a seamless transition to the new system supporting NHS Scotland staff’s uninterrupted work. In the virtual AWS environment, a few clicks completed the switchover. By contrast, an update to the pre-existing BT servers would have involved procuring new hardware, waiting for installation and a lengthy commissioning cycle.

Our team now oversees the entire application for NHS Scotland, including patching and security management. This enables the client to rely on us as a single provider and contact point to rapidly implement updates and resolve any issues, rather than pursuing requests and paper trails involving BT, NHS Scotland’s own IT team and our team at Provident CRM.

Use case: AWS enhances Irish government customer service
Building on many years of work with the Irish Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO), the Provident CRM team is now introducing AWS Direct Connect to bridge the government’s pre-existing hybrid network with the public cloud. This project enabled us to marry our in-depth knowledge of the Irish public sector’s requirements and objectives with over a decade of experience working with Amazon solutions.

Until recently, we were only able to deploy our applications on-premise for Irish local authorities and government departments, via their own hosting, or with the LGMA or OGCIO. Recently, however, AWS Direct Connect was added to the Irish government’s wide area network, enabling direct connection and access to AWS cloud services across governmental departments.

In our work with Meath County Council, for example, we’ve utilised this to support enhancing cross-departmental customer service provision. A tailored CRM solution is now in place for the council’s customer service team. This enables queries to be effectively managed across single or multiple government departments, prevents data siloes and ensures feedback is delivered to citizens.




Cloud-ready with Provident CRM

As a trusted, experienced CRM digital transformation provider, the Provident CRM team is ready to support local authorities and government departments in their cloud migration projects. From providing an application suited to specific departmental needs to setting up AWS connectivity, we support end-to-end digital transformation needs. To find out more, don’t hesitate to contact our team. We’ll be glad to speak with you!

For further guidance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team via the form below.

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