Cloud transformation fit for the country’s public sector

April 05, 2022 | 11:00
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Vietnam is in a transition to a digital era. In this context, issuing a framework for the usage of cloud technologies is essential. Bruno Sivanandan, chairman of EuroCham’s Digital Sector Committee, writes about the importance of a smart cloud-first strategy in this digital transformation journey.
Cloud transformation fit for the country’s public sector
Bruno Sivanandan, chairman of EuroCham’s Digital Sector Committee

Changes within the public sector have rapidly accelerated in the past couple of years. Digital content consumption and reliance on digital sources for information and services has increased over time and will continue to rise in the near future. The benefits of cloud computing are obvious and attractive to the IT organisations of both the public and private sectors. Agencies and companies are eagerly rushing to migrate their systems, data, and applications to public, hybrid, and multi-cloud-based solutions.

Vietnam has taken robust steps toward developing its digital economy over the next few years with its National Digital Transformation Programme by 2025 with a vision towards 2030. A key element of Vietnam’s digital transformation plan is developing digital infrastructure and embracing cloud computing technology. This is a great opportunity for industry and the government to collaborate on a cloud-first strategy for Vietnam to accelerate cloud adoption within the government.

A cloud-first approach will pave the way for businesses and organisations of various sizes and across multiple sectors in the country to follow suit, thereby collectively creating a thriving digital economy in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese government is prioritising the digital transformation of eight sectors namely finance and banking, healthcare, education, agriculture, transport and logistics, energy, natural resources and the environment, and manufacturing.

Many companies in these sectors have already been utilising cloud computing technology to advance their businesses. TNEX is Vietnam’s first fully digital bank with a radically new mobile platform that brings all its digital banking and lifestyle services under one umbrella in a super app.

The app offers its customers advanced digital banking services, supports their lifestyle needs such as food, education, travel, entertainment, health, fashion, and messaging and chat functionality, and provides access to a vibrant digital ecosystem fuelled by TNEX merchants. All this is possible with the scalability and agility of Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing, without which TNEX would have had to operate its own on-premises infrastructure that would have added layers of complexity and costs.

Another great example is TranS, a cloud-based video conferencing service owned by Namviet Telecom, which faced difficulties in managing app performance and availability due to a sudden spike in demand for user requests during the pandemic. TranS utilised cloud technology to effectively respond to unpredictable loads and in less than three months, the app’s user growth jumped from 1,000 to 450,000, with 95 per cent of users in the education sector.

The app is also recommended by the Ministry of Education and Training for online learning purposes due to its high security and stability levels.

Cloud-first approach

There is already a tremendous appetite in Vietnam to adopt advanced technologies for business success, and the government can boost this further by leveraging the cloud for public sector workloads. Cloud computing has brought forth a new, more efficient, and secure means of managing government information technology resources, and has opened up avenues for modernisation, innovation, and cost savings, among other benefits.

Therefore, more countries across Asia-Pacific are implementing comprehensive cloud-first policies to leverage the cloud to achieve digital initiatives, drive local economic growth, and solve some of the biggest challenges in society.

For example, Japan’s Digital Agency was formed as a new government body aimed at upgrading online services and infrastructure in the Japanese public sector. Cloud service providers (CSP) directly contracted with the Digital Agency will help the Japanese government modernise IT by offering advanced technologies and global best practices to help public sector customers innovate securely at pace.

In Singapore, the Government Technology Agency, or GovTech, has been pioneering the use of cloud services to drive the Singapore government’s digital transformation. Over a 5-year period till 2023, the Singaporean government is systematically shifting less sensitive government ICT systems onto the commercial cloud to allow public agencies to use cutting edge private sector capabilities to develop digital services.

Most recently, GovTech used AWS Cloud to quickly build the SafeEntry application, Singapore’s national digital check-in system, to prevent and control the spread of the pandemic.

GovTech is also working with cloud service providers to innovate on new capabilities and accelerate its Smart Nation Initiative. The agency is removing complexities in managing highly available services to allow developers to focus on achieving end-to-end seamless services for citizens. This includes reducing the deployment pipeline with no loss of service, as well as auto-scaling to allow infrastructure to meet elastic demands in real-time while enabling interoperability across government agencies and future expansion.

GovTech has also successfully leveraged cloud technologies to deliver a citizen-centric digital identity system that consistently brings benefits to the lives of Singapore residents.

Setting up fundamentals

Understanding the differences between the standardised delivery model of cloud computing compared to traditional on-premises IT, which has a high degree of customisation, helps set expectations regarding CSP and government customer responsibilities in a cloud model. As cloud customers do not purchase physical assets from CSPs, it follows that governments should not approach cloud policy and procurement as if they are purchasing physical assets.

Cloud policy should take into account how standardised utility-style services are budgeted for, procured, secured, and used, and build a cloud-first strategy that is intentionally different from traditional IT, designed to harness the benefits of the cloud delivery model.

Apart from simplifying the cloud procurement process, other best practices in cloud-first policies include following a principled and risk-based approach in developing regulations so that they are not overly prescriptive, adopting internationally recognised security standards, and acknowledging the shared responsibility model which is crucial to ensuring data security in the cloud. Furthermore, cloud technology has benefitted communities because of its ability to operate seamlessly across borders.

Therefore, cloud-first policies should also support the free movement of data, which underpins the digital economy and plays a fundamental role in data-driven growth and innovation. The effective and efficient functioning of data processing across borders is a key building block in any data value chain and policies that block these cross-border transfers of data can hamper the ability of businesses and organisations to harness the full power of cloud technology.

According to the Ministry of Information and Communications, the cloud computing market is forecast to be worth $500 million by 2025, due in part to the pandemic situation accelerating domestic cloud adoption. Cloud technology is essential for the development of a digital government, economy, and society in Vietnam. The nation is making tremendous strides on its digital transformation journey, and the more the government encourages the use of cloud technology among all sectors, businesses, and public sector organisations, the faster Vietnam will realise its digital economy ambitions.

From the experience of Deloitte in Vietnam, to lead and deliver cloud transformation in governments and other public institutions globally, the public sector needs assistance with the organisational, business, and technical aspects of massive cloud transformations. Citizens expect services from the public sector to match their private sector experiences with fast, intuitive interactions.

As infrastructure evolves and cutting-edge technology clears the IT fog hovering over the public sector, there is an opportunity to connect often siloed pockets of information. Legacy applications can weigh down the mission by forcing leaders to rely on outdated technology that is not secure and is expensive to maintain. We know these challenges well, and we’ve seen them before and helped our clients overcome them.

By Bruno Sivanandan

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