​Why one Australian council used cloud to keep pace with customer demand

The City of Holdfast Bay told ZDNet that it realised cloud was the most efficient and effective way the council could go forward to avoid further business disruption.

The South Australian City of Holdfast Bay possessed a drove of technology solutions housed within its own datacentre that were fast approaching the end of its life.

Speaking with ZDNet, City of Holdfast Bay CEO Justin Lynch said that being a small to medium-sized council, it didn't make sense to continue to attempt functioning the way it was.

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"We had to make a decision on do we want to replace that onsite or do we want to move to the cloud," Lynch explained.

"We saw that an organisation our size couldn't actually compete and keep up to date with the skills that were necessary from an IT profession perspective -- the security needed, the backup needed."

The council turned to TechnologyOne to help it move to the cloud initially to save on investing in physical on-premises infrastructure by implementing the company's OneCouncil enterprise software-as-a-service solution.

According to Lynch, it was also important for his organisation to hand things such as the security, backup, and responsiveness of the system to a partner that was better resourced and more capable.

"This is the world that we live in now; there is no going back from a high-tech world," Lynch continued.

"Things are being delivered in completely different ways in terms of the business disruption that's going on. We need to keep abreast of that. Our customers demand it, and it's the most efficient and effective way we can go forward. We have to be responsible with their ratepayer dollar, and [cloud is] the best way of doing that."

Discussing the choice to shift to cloud, Lynch said that given everything is about data and information, it's easy to get "bogged" down when there's lots of it. He said the council's new approach to technology offers a way of sifting through the data, synthesising it, and communicating with people more effectively.

As with many digital transformation efforts, the council needed to address cultural barriers, but Lynch said the best way to push through is to continue strong and constant communication as to what's going on.

"Enabling staff to see the steps towards what we're doing, and not over-promising in terms of what we're going to deliver to them," he continued.

"It is important to deliver on your promises on time and with a set schedule, and ensure that staff can actually see their place in that and ask questions about it as well. If they have concerns, and especially about training and changing processes, they need to know how they are going to get up to speed and what their part in it is. It's about involving staff in the process and saying, 'we'll take you with us'."

The City of Holdfast Bay is looking towards a smart future with a driverless vehicle trial slated for the coast in September. Lynch said the council is also keen to invest in sensors in areas such as lighting poles.

With the city's parking and transport systems also in its sights, Lynch revealed intelligent parking systems are also "on the horizon".

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