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Simplifying Cloud Hosting Adoption

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: cloud hosting, Our services, user needs

As part of our MoJ and wider Government strategy, we are putting cloud first. The MoJ has been taking strides toward this for a few years via Digital's Platform and Architecture modernisation and hosting offers. Technology Services has now adopted two core platforms, with the needs of users very much at the centre of everything we do. Our aim is to make technology more reliable and resilient while reducing costs and bringing services in-house, where practical.

Hosting with suppliers has been standard in the MoJ for some time. It doesn’t always make sense to the supplier host but if a viable in-house option that can meet the needs of the application can’t be found, then, there’s no choice. The Landing Zone Team wants to offer a hosting service FOR the MoJ, by the MoJ, which is better, faster, cheaper and well supported while keeping the bar to adopting in-house hosting on the cloud as low as possible.

We don’t want to isolate or alienate teams looking to self-host (e.g. move away from supplier or on premise infrastructure). We adopted a core principle that we wouldn’t mandate, for example, that resources can only be created using code as, if teams didn’t have an infrastructure as code skills, then we have automatically sent them away to host with a supplier! Saying that, we do want to encourage modern practices and use technology well. We’re committed to doing this in several key ways:

We work in the open

All of our team documentation, user documentation and code is open to the organisation for visibility and critique. We publish ‘Fortnight Notes’ every two weeks which update our users on progress and keep them informed of our next priorities. We make no secret about the fact that our house isn’t as in order as we’d like it to be and regularly talk about our struggles and successes.

We empower users to work however they need to

This means we mandate as few processes and procedures users must follow as possible but offer ‘features’ which help implement and maintain best practices. We make no secret about the fact that “With great autonomy comes great responsibility” but remain committed to working for users first and supporting the way they need to do it.

We support our users every step of the way

From initial conversations about the art of the possible to monthly catch-ups with service owners and support teams once they’re onboard; we build relationships as well as infrastructure.

The problem space in hosting is quite complex and our hosting platform can definitely help make life easier for a lot of users. We need to keep up with user needs and make sure our roadmap delivery and management are in line with the challenges we hear about. The feedback so far has been very positive (as you can see) so we’re on the right lines but there’s a long way to go!

Head of remote support says:

“By using the landing zone secure access to our servers, it has allowed us to utilise our normal accounts to carry out the work. This enables accountability back against audit logs and more accurate recording of work carried out, where previously this could not be done. It removed engineer frustration by allowing concurrent connections, whereby the previous solution limited this to 2 at any given time. This improved resolution times for the users as a result.”

Solution architect says:

“If Carlsberg did digital technology services, you’d have the Landing zone team. From a product manager who understands the technology the team offers, and their capability and capacity, to extremely competent and knowledgeable engineers, or I should probably say developers, who always go above and beyond the ask. I recently required some monitoring for a landing zone spoke, and while looking at clickops’ing my way through things, they developed a Terraform module to automate all of that, with detailed and clear instructions to self-serve (if only I knew my way around Github!) and then offered to help when I got stuck, giving me a detailed walkthrough of the solution. It’s a joy working with such an amazing team, thank you.”

3LS Colleague says:

“It's been a great experience working with the Landing Zone team to monitor our infrastructure. Previously we were monitoring these servers, we couldn't figure out how to configure an alert to send to our monitoring mailbox when a threshold was reached. Thanks to the Landing Zone team, we managed to achieve it and now we get alerts right into our monitoring mailbox and don't have to go to the monitoring dashboard to see what's going on with these servers. Landing Zone team has trained us how to write alert rules using code, now we can update the coding ourselves and once ALZ team approves it from, it will be merged to the main branch.

Also, big thanks for managing our infrastructure, which includes patching, hub, spoke management, and providing level 4 support for everything that falls under landing zone responsibilities.”

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