Roadblocks to cloud adoption
Given the benefits of cloud, why are some Asian governments still hesitant to adopt it? "Ultimately, the biggest challenge governments have in terms of cloud enablement is securing buy-in from various stakeholders across multiple departments. This includes making a convincing case for the operational benefits of cloud utilisation, and allaying fears over the security of data in the cloud," said Ershov.
Moore explained that cloud security concerns mainly stem from the fact that cloud is invisible (unlike hardware), and that it is managed externally by cloud service providers (CSPs). "Customers usually question how we/they can protect something that can't be seen, and may be worried about the risks of not storing or managing their data in-house. But the reality is that a CSP will be able to do a better job than what they (ie.customers) can do on their own and on-premise as the CSP has the necessary skills and expertise."
To further put cloud security concerns to rest, Asian governments could look for CSPs that are certified to be compliant to security standards such as the international standard ISO 27001, and Singapore's Multi-Tier Cloud Security Standard (MTCS SS), advised Ershov. Such certifications provide the assurance that the CSP's services are safe, secure and reliable, he added.
While CSPs are responsible for securing the cloud infrastructure, customers/governments need to shoulder the responsibility of securing the apps and data they build and store in the cloud, asserted Moore. "Security should be a shared responsibility between CSPs and customers. For instance, customers could install AWS' Hardware Security Module (HSM) to encrypt any data moving from the cloud to on-premise. Since HSM allows the customer to retain full control of the keys and the cryptographic operations performed by the HSMs, it assures customers that no unauthorised person will be able to decrypt the data without the keys."
Since managing and securing cloud apps and the data on it require the involvement of the customer, governments need to have employees with the necessary skills to do so. "[Unfortunately], most schools today are not equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to manage new technologies. To overcome this, AWS recently launched AWS Educate to provide training, tools, and technologies that will help students develop the skills to design, deploy and operate applications on the AWS Cloud," said Moore.
The government itself has a part to play in accelerating cloud adoption in the public sector, said Ershov. "High ranking government officials should publicly show their support of the cloud in order to galvanise their organisations into moving towards cloud adoption. A central government ICT agency is also necessary to issue a standardised framework for cloud adoption, such as Australia's Cloud Computing Policy. These agencies and policies play an important role in setting the attitudes of various government agencies towards cloud utilisation, and lay the foundation for them to actively engage with CSPs to find the right cloud solutions for them."
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