Singapore National Library Board's hybrid cloud journey
By Enterprise Innovation editors 12-Nov-2011
With the understanding that the library is no longer the sole source of information, the Singapore National Library Board is driving IT efficiency through cloud computing to stay relevant.
Since early 2011, users of Singapore’s National Library Board (NLB) have been enjoying stories with their mobile devices, via 'MobileRead' -- a mobile reading application for iPhone users that it launched.
Staying relevant has always been one of the top agenda items for Singapore’s National Library Board (NLB). And recognizing the need to understand its customers, NLB’s IT team has kept a keen eye on using technology to grasp business opportunities.
Cloud computing, identified by its Director of InfoComm Division Lee Kee Siang, is one of the technologies that is enabling the library to reach out to its users more extensively.
He recognized that library services have come a long way with the support of technology.
|The Singapore National Library Board requested for a proof of concept and a visit to the [cloud computing service] provider’s data center.|
The library has evolved from offering one media to multiple media; from a custodian role to a focus on service orientation.
One of the highlights of technology usage was the implementation of RFID technology.
“With RFID technology deployed at check-out, sorting and check-in, there were shorter queues; almost instantaneous borrowing and returning; and efficiency in operation.”
Lee is now involved in bringing the library beyond physical boundaries and providing a seamless library experience, even at remote locations in Singapore.
He highlighted that with the NLB’s mobile Web application, “Library in Your Pocket”, users can also access the catalogue search, check their accounts, access library blogs and subscribe to the e-Notification Service.
Technology has also given the library the opportunity to reach out to less privileged users too, said Lee.
“Molly, our mobile library, allows us to reach patrons who have problems getting to the physical library. Technology, such as 3G wireless communication, connects the bus unit to the backend system in real time.”
Meeting business needs
Lee was excited when he recognized that cloud computing could be used to provide better services to library users.
“We were looking for opportunities to do more with our existing data center. Some questions we considered were: how cloud can be integrated to the existing system; and what service level agreement would be realistic.”
Existing data center capabilities, business needs, system integration and service level agreement were some initial considerations NLB had when it was considering incorporating a cloud computing platform.
“Cost, security and data confidentiality issues were important to NLB too.”
The team did a proof of concept for half a year. When that demonstrated that it could meet the library’s needs for internal integration, the team visited the cloud provider’s data center to understand their security plans.
“We requested for audit reports to ensure the vendor is adhering to these.”
NLB decided to test the public cloud computing technology with its Enquiry Management System. It requested for a proof of concept and a visit to the provider’s data center. It also analyzed audit reports and ensured that regulatory guidelines were adhered to.
When it was successful, he introduced a hybrid cloud environment. He explained that non-sensitive data will remain in the public cloud, including general enquiries.
“Sensitive data, including personal particulars, will reside in the private cloud.”
Lee is pleased that NLB implemented the Enquiry Management System three months after the project was awarded.
“If we had chosen an off-the-shelf solution, it would have taken at least six months. In addition, we could leverage on the extra cloud features.”
The library also achieved cost savings of 50% the cost of implementing the solution on its own.