By Carol Ko 24-Jul-2012
The Hong Kong government will take "an active outsourcing arrangement for government cloud services," said government CIO Daniel Lai at the "ICT Industry Forum 2012" held today by the Hong Kong Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO).
Lai (pictured) told some 100 attendees that the government cloud services will comprise data centers, service management, security management, project management, application development and software testing. Together, these will help facilitate wider cloud adoption in Hong Kong.
The OGCIO in April formed the "Expert Group on Cloud Computing Services and Standards" to drive cloud computing adoption and deployment in the city. To date, it has set up three working groups: Working Group on Cloud Computing Interoperability Standards, Working Group on Cloud Security and Privacy, and Working Group on Provision and Use of Cloud Services.
In May, OGCIO announced a list of 40 companies that will offer over 300 approved public cloud services to government bureaux and departments. These companies will initially provide public cloud services to government agencies over the next three years.
"All cloud services providers have to pass some requirements which we think are not too stringent," said Paul Pang, OGCIO's senior systems manager (business transformation).
Besides having "one year of relevant cloud service experience," all listed government public cloud service providers must also pass the assessments on general requirements, security requirements, manpower requirements and technical requirements. They must also agree to make reference to the standard set of terms and conditions provided by the government.
OGCIO will enlist more public cloud service providers periodically. "OGCIO will consider arranging the next cycle of invitation depending on the number of new interested service providers."
There are four service categories under the current government cloud service directory: productivity applications for individual users, business applications for business use, cloud IT services (mainly data storage and computing power), and social media applications (mainly content distribution).
Pang said the government public cloud services providers can consider providing more add-on services as new business opportunities. The suggested add-on services were: web-based file editing, workflow and project management, e-fax, data analytics, business intelligence, knowledge management, financial management, disk storage, virtual machine, web hosting, blog, community portal, video streaming, web feed, and online media.
Will OGCIO assume any role in the buyer-supplier relationship between the government department and the cloud service provider? According to Pang, "The OGCIO will take a governance role to assure the quality of service."
"If the government bureaux or department is dissatisfied with the quality of service of the public cloud service provider, they can report to OGCIO and OGCIO will take further action if the problem cannot be solved. In extreme cases, OGCIO will remove a cloud service provider from the supplier list," Pang added.
At the question and answer session, Edith Mok, vice-chairperson of Hong Kong Society of Rehabilitation, asked whether the Hong Kong government has formulated a long term cloud computing strategy for the next five to 10 years.
Lai responded: "Many CIOs ask if we have a long term cloud strategy. Cloud computing is not a technology. It is only a model [for IT resources delivery] which constantly evolves. Cloud computing is not an answer to everything. We [OGCIO] will adopt whatever model that is best applicable and most cost-effective in the interest of the public."
"Even if we have a 5-10 year vision of cloud computing, there will be new technologies which we'll consider to adopt. We'll not adopt cloud computing blindly. But we're already studying how we can use cloud computing to serve our bureaux and departments," Lai added.
In respond to another question on data sharing among government bureaus and departments in the cloud, Lai said, "The government has data privacy concerns [about the sharing of data]. But wherever possible, we'll try to share data, because interoperability is a very important element in cloud computing."