When the civil service had to pivot to remote work arrangements last year, Singapore’s government agencies were prepared. Even with an unprecedented spike in the number of devices accessing agency resources via the cloud, essential government services continued without a hitch.
Behind this success, however, lies Singapore’s established commitment to a tech-forward public service. As early as 2018, the Singapore Government announced a five-year plan to migrate most of its information technology systems from on-premise infrastructure to the commercial cloud. By June 2020, over 150 systems were moved to cloud, and over S$870 million had been earmarked to double the number of systems on the commercial cloud.
Singapore has clearly established its intentions to press forward with cloud-oriented government transformation. But how can agencies work towards this goal?
Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are a must, not a good-to-have
In the shift to cloud, ‘hybrid cloud’ and ‘multi-cloud’ are essential.
Hybrid cloud refers to a mix of private and public clouds working in tandem, allowing for a mix of data and processes between the two. Multi-cloud refers to organisations’ use of a mix of public cloud services, often from multiple providers, increasing flexibility. Both models can work together with on-premise physical and virtual infrastructure.
“The push toward multiple cloud environments offers agencies the flexibility to rethink IT in terms of their workloads and specific mission needs,” comments Eric Goh, Vice President & Managing Director, Singapore, Dell Technologies. “Cloud is not a destination; it is an operating model that should be adjusted to address evolving needs.”
Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) has also explained that commercial cloud’s capabilities and services can help governments build citizen-centric applications and services. This allows agencies to roll out services in a more agile, scaleable, and reliable manner.
Indeed, the rapid shift to mandatory remote work is a good example of how flexible hybrid and multi-cloud environments are becoming increasingly relevant.
“Most agencies have a mix of public and private clouds. In an office environment, it is easy to cross-pollinate, but a remote workforce often struggles to share data between the two, unless using an effective hybrid approach,” Goh explains. This hybrid environment keeps data secure, yet accessible and consistent for a variety of users’ needs.
Optimising the transition
That being said, moving to cloud is far from a spur-of-the-moment decision, notes Gordon Heap, General Manager, Singapore Public Sector, DXC Technology. “Planning is essential — determining the migration sequence, data dependencies and the treatment of legacy applications are critical.”
To ensure an optimal transition, agencies have to be disciplined in reviewing their portfolio of on-premise data. They then have to make an unbiased assessment of the appropriate treatment for it.
Agencies should take this as an “opportunity” to take stock of the applications which are critical to move, versus those where it makes sense to consider alternative action, Heap adds. A difficult decision must be made to terminate or discontinue some outdated tools and functions.
Flexible data protection
As data migrates from on-premise to cloud, security must remain a priority for governments. This is especially so as data is growing exponentially, says Saravanan Krishnan, Director, Data Protection Solutions, South Asia, Dell Technologies. Data protection technology needs to scale in tandem.
“From our experience, most organisations are looking for a comprehensive data protection solution that offers simplicity, efficiency and performance, and has the capability to address a diverse and complex environment of applications and platforms,” Krishnan says.
However, organisations often deploy data protection solutions from two or more providers. This makes them four times more vulnerable to cyber incidents, a Dell Technologies 2020 report on data protection found. Rather than relying on cookie-cutter services, agencies should find a provider that can develop data management strategies to suit their specific environment and risk posture.
Leveraging tech talent
To make effective decisions, agencies also need to leverage high-skilled tech talent. However, workers’ availability is not always a given — according to Dell Technologies’ 2020 report, Singapore organisations cited the lack of in-house skillsets and expertise as their third-largest barrier to digital transformation.
Dell Technologies aims to meet this challenge head-on. In 2021, the company launched a tech skills accelerator, which will empower up to 3,000 individuals with skills in key growth areas, including data protection and management and cloud computing.
Recently, Dell Technologies also announced a Global Innovation Hub (GIH) in Singapore to fast-track adoption and understanding of multiple digital solutions, from cloud-native and cybersecurity to user experience. A first of its kind outside the United States, the GIH will drive R&D programmes not only in Singapore but for partners and customers worldwide.
Such initiatives are key to supplying Singapore with sustainable levels of talent to drive public sector digitalisation.
A tried-and-tested partnership
“In this on-demand economy, organisations are increasingly looking for a simplified way to acquire and consume IT,” Krishnan says. A reliable service provider can expedite agencies’ transition to cloud, “freeing up time and funding to focus on the critical initiatives they must pursue to meet their overall strategic objectives.”
DXC Technology and Dell Technologies’ partnership combines both companies’ expertise, offering a comprehensive portfolio of services to accelerate time to value for cloud customers.
For instance, DXC Managed Multicloud Services provides a single, Dell-powered, management control plane to support a seamless multi-cloud experience for users. The companies’ security services span data backups to fully-managed cyber recovery support from DXC Technology’s data protection teams, who are Dell-trained and -certified.
Singapore’s cloud-first government focus represents an exciting opportunity for agencies to become more agile and creative. A seamless, secure transition to cloud is the first step towards achieving that goal.