Cloud computing is now a key technology adopted by organisations to enhance competitiveness, efficiency and reach - and the government sector is no stranger to adopting this technology too. Governments today are vital in defining a country's success. With globalisation and opportunities in Asia, there is now a pressure, even for the public sector, to leverage key technologies to propel nations forward.
The sustainability and scalability of the platform is soon gaining increased interest and acceptance with governments. The departments are being prompted to assess the new delivery model and work out ways that can help improve their inter-agency communication, streamline administrative operations, and deliver a broader spectrum of citizenry services. Considering the volumes of data that are being churned out by government departments for citizens, the cloud is increasingly seen as a tool that can help increase collaboration, deliver volumes of data to citizens in useful ways, and at the same time reduce IT costs while allowing departments to focus on mission-critical tasks. These capabilities and benefits become increasingly important as businesses expand and governments step up activities with the region striving to be a hub for business and leisure.
2011 saw an exponential increase in cloud adoption. Governments seem to have taken the lead in adoption of virtualisation security. A recent Frost & Sullivan* study further estimates 21 percent of the respondents in government verticals to have adopted cloud computing in one form or the other in Asia Pacific.
However, migrating to cloud often involves a mammoth evaluation exercise that looks at the readiness of applications and data and the business case for doing so. While the challenges in the government sector are no different from that of the private sector, the issues of procurement and security are more pronounced in this sector. The government has an onus to protect citizen data and ensure high availability of the critical national infrastructure such as power, water, health, communications, education, tourism and banking.
Multiple issues involved
For the public sector, the decision to move to the cloud is not just based on the cost savings expected or access to latest technologies. Instead, the cloud is associated with multiple issues - such as reliability concerns, security and privacy, data governance, and protection of intellectual property.
*Frost and Sullivan in its recent report outlined the need for cloud standards as being instrumental in ensuring smoother cloud adoption and a more structured and reliable platform. Some of the points outlined include the use of:
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or SLGs that ensure high availability and factors such as disaster recovery and incident handling and guidelines on storage, access, retrieval and retirement
- Security Best Practices - adherence to ISO 27001 and SAS 70, encryption, etc.
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