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ACCA pushes improvements to country’s cloud-first policy

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ASIA CLOUD Computing Association Executive Director Lim May-Ann said there is a need to review and update the country’s cloud-first policy. — DENISE A. VALDEZ

By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) released on Monday a white paper that proposes fine-tuning of the Philippines’ cloud-first policy, as it said it sees potential in the country to advance the movement of the public sector to the cloud.

The study entitled “From Vision to Procurement: Principles for Adopting Cloud Computing in the Public Sector” identified several points of improvement on Department Circular No. 2017-002 of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), or the cloud-first policy of the Philippines.

“We think the cloud-first policy is a good policy. (But) I think the world has moved on since 2017. Therefore, what I’m noticing is there may be some space for refreshing of some of the thinking behind it,” ACCA Executive Director Lim May-Ann said in a media briefing on the white paper in Makati City on Monday.

The report noted one of the challenges in encouraging the public sector to move to the cloud is the doubt on its data security. ACCA Chair for Public Sector Special Interest Group Jarom Britton, who presented the paper, debunked this belief, noting that a cloud-based system is more secure than relying on data servers.

“If you’re developing a cloud-first policy, first recommendation is expressly recognize the generally greater security offered by cloud-based systems over on-premise systems. There is this perception that cloud is somehow less secure than what the public sector does. If that was ever true, it is certainly no longer the case. I think agencies that are coming up with these cloud-first policies need to help refute that perception,” he said.




Another concern that moving to the cloud poses for the public sector is data classification, or determining which assets are “top secret” and may not be for the cloud.

“Let’s take a look at what information you have, recognizing some of it may not be ready to go to the cloud yet. Some of it may not ever be ready to go to the cloud. But let’s talk about the information that can go to the cloud. Let’s not let that information fall victim to the small percentage of information (that cannot),” Mr. Britton said.

He noted for most government agencies, there are usually three levels of security classification of data, and 80-85% of it are classified at the lowest level and may therefore be moved to the cloud. This easily brings advantage to the government by digitizing a big chunk of its data and moving it out of traditional infrastructure servers.

The report also noted how the movement to the cloud “democratizes” information technology, as it would allow the public sector to have access to the same computing resources that are used by more developed countries.

“We always hear people talk about AI (artificial intelligence), blockchain, IoT (Internet of Things). Well you don’t have AI if you don’t have cloud. You don’t have IoT if you don’t have cloud. You don’t have e-commerce if you don’t have cloud… None of those things could happen unless cloud-computing is facilitated,” Mr. Britton said.

After the publication of the report, ACCA said it looking forward to meeting with the DICT to discuss its findings. A June 27 meeting has been scheduled with the government, Ms. Lim said, which would allow the organization to raise its points to the DICT.

“We’re going to have a workshop with them on the 27th of June to concretize a lot of the implementation policy. For example, we were talking about the accreditation. We’re trying to see whether there’s space to negotiate for a more of a registration (format),” she said, referring to the existing cloud-first policy of the DICT which requires cloud service providers to be accredited by a “Philippine GovCloud.”

“Can the Philippines learn? Can we accelerate a little bit more? I think the Philippines is in a better place to do it, because I found the DICT very willing to negotiate and discuss with the private sector. And the policy is flexible enough to achieve that,” Ms. Lim added.