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7 best practices for cloud computing in the public sector

Modernising delivery of public services can be significantly challenging, especially when it comes to government. To address this, the Asia Cloud Computing Association released the report ‘From Vision to Procurement: Principles for Adopting Cloud Computing in the Public Sector', which addresses concerns surrounding cloud computing and offers a set of principles or guidelines to follow.

Focusing specifically on best practice recommendations when it comes to making cloud purchases in the public sector, the report is written for policymakers as well as procuring agencies.

ACCA chair of the public sector special interest group, Jarom Britton, says cloud-based technologies present a secure and cost effective option when delivering services for citizens, and as such represent the future for the public sector. However, in order to make the most of the offerings available it is important to understand the risks.

Britton says, "Cloud products differ in some meaningful ways from traditional IT resources, which presents governments the ability to drive better outcomes but also requires thoughtful policies and processes to ensure they can capitalise on the potential.

ACCA executive director Lim May-Ann says, "While governments recognise the value addition of cloud computing and have adopted Cloud First policies, procurement challenges continue to hinder actual adoption of cloud services. Thus, more flexible and agile procurement processes must be adopted.

"Adopting cloud and cloud services will help government agencies to achieve greater efficiency and enhanced citizen inclusion. The ACCA believes that there is a clear need for a forward-looking cloud procurement strategy to create a trusted environment for the public sector to utilise such services,” says Lim.

Adding to this, ACCA chair Eric Hui says, "The ACCA's seven principles for public sector cloud procurement will help address government concerns regarding the inherent ability of cloud technologies to safeguard their data and operations, align local regulations with global compliance standards, and enable government agencies to utilise cloud to achieve objectives such as environmental sustainability and improved access to government services."

An outline of the report and the principles it includes is below.

Part 1: Protecting the government with the cloud

  • Principle 1: Security: Information management systems security is fundamental for the public sector.
  • Principle 2: Privacy and personal information: Governments need to ensure that privacy rights are respected.
  • Principle 3: Availability, integrity and resilience: Governments need information and technology to be reliable.

Part 2: Facilitating a move to the cloud

  • Principle 4: Regulatory compliance and global standards: Technology solutions must be measured to clear, verifiable benchmarks for quality and service reliability.
  • Principle 5: Accountability: Technology procurement must align to agencies' duty of accountability.

Part 3: Why cloud for the public sector

  • Principle 6: Accessibility and inclusion: Technology adoption should support government's broader societal goals.
  • Principle 7: Sustainability: Technology should help improve environmental sustainability.
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