Housing Associations reclassified as private organisations. What does that mean for IT availability?

As Housing Associations are reclassified from public sector to ‘private bodies’, what does that mean for them and how does that impact on IT availability? Plan B explores.

The main thrust behind housing associations being reclassified from public sector to private bodies is to enable them to borrow more money and therefore build more homes at a faster rate. Amidst the current housing crisis, where authorities are being driven to produce more affordable homes (Britain needs to build 300,000 new homes per year), solutions are being sought to ramp up the build process. Theresa May is even declaring it upon herself to build more homes more quickly in order to enable more people to get onto the housing ladder . The state balance sheet will also benefit, with more than £60 billion of debt being removed from balance sheets through the reclassification process.

But how will this reclassification affect IT decisions and what impact will that have on availability and resilience within housing associations? Here are our views:

  1. It’s no great reveal that budgets have always been tight within the public sector. With the main focus on the generation of housing, aspects like IT and resilience come a second best to the main goal of providing affordable housing. We don’t expect this to change significantly. We expect housing associations to feel ongoing pressure to meet challenging build targets that will involve more borrowing. As a result, budgets will remain tight and under close scrutiny.
  2. Backup solutions are likely to continue to dominate the housing market over true disaster recovery solutions. As long as data is kept secure and remains safe, business productivity will be sacrificed for the short term as in the scenario of ransomware or an IT failure. Whilst housing associations would like to be truly resilient, budgets will still limit IT availability capabilities and suitable recovery points and data loss will be sought within the remit of budget, rather than the other way round.
  3. As organisations privatise, merge and consolidate, it will take some time to implement IT infrastructure strategies across the business and IT availability will likely become part of any migration progress. The move to the public cloud will keep capex down, and disaster recovery solutions offered by public cloud providers can deliver a quick and easy solution to the problem of IT availability risk. We forecast however that housing associations that jump straight to the public cloud for both production and DR systems will be limited in terms of the functionality on offer, over those that retain an independent copy of their systems and data in a separate cloud. Getting systems and data out of the public cloud onto an alternative platform for greater resilience is no simple task, and should be planned for ahead of migrating productions systems into the cloud. We are already engaging with many customers who have put everything in the cloud without an easy way out, lending itself to a greater risk or total loss of data should the cloud provider be able to resume performance.

To discuss IT availability, including migration of productions systems to the cloud and the impact this can have on your DR systems, contact Plan B on 08448 707999 or info@planb.co.uk

By Beth Baxter