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An international data centre operator officially opened its third data centre in Loyang, bringing its total investment in such centres in Singapore to US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion). This comes as Singapore was ranked among the top 10 data centre markets in the world recently. Data centres are used by organisations to store, process and transmit large amounts of data.

Data Centres, once a niche investment and inflexible asset for global enterprises, are now a cornerstone of the information economy. Over the past decade, US$100 billion has poured into the asset class, according to a Data Centre Market Comparison, a ranking of the global Data Centre markets. This significant capital inflow has been matched by an equally major technical shift, as enterprises have chosen to move workloads off-premises, first to colocation facilities and more recently to a mixture of colocation and public and private clouds.

The new data centre in Singapore called Digital Loyang II, spans 34,000 sqm, or the size of about 27 Olympic-size swimming pools. Digital Loyang II can carry an IT load of 50 megawatts. This is larger than the combined IT load of about 40 megawatts for the first two data centres – Digital Jurong launched in 2010 and Digital Loyang I launched in 2016.
Speaking at the newest data centre’s launch, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said the facility received the highest certification that a data centre can attain under a government Green Mark scheme for such centres. As the digital economy continues to grow, it is important to ensure that the digital infrastructure is as environmentally sustainable as possible, and Digital Loyang II has done well to be over 30% more energy efficient than the industry norm, said the minister.

Recently, the Data Centre Location Index 2021 ranked Singapore as the second-most attractive city to build data centres, out of a total of 50 cities. Another report ranked Singapore’s data centre market as No. 5 out of 48 markets in total.

Moreover, Singapore was also ranked number six in the global data centre market rankings, the only Asian country to be named after the American markets of Northern Virginia, Silicon Valley, Dallas, Chicago, and New York/New Jersey.

Also, a Data Centre Advisory Group advises that enterprises must determine what to do with their on-premises facility, which workloads to move to the cloud and how to implement a hybrid IT strategy. Developers and operators require a parcel with robust fibre and access to power as well as a thorough grasp of the permitting process and all risk factors. Investors must be able to assess the long-term potential of a data centre to hold its value and how easily it can be upgraded. All involved require access to capital and a clear understanding of objectives.

Singapore’s undersea cables and strong business climate have enabled developers to build data centres in the last few years, although the future of its development pipeline hangs in the balance as the city-state pushes forwards with plans for a 36% target reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Future government allocation of more land to develop data centres will need to factor the pressure on its carbon footprint. Additional data centres mean additional power consumption, resulting in an increased carbon footprint. Singapore may not be the largest in terms of footprint, but it is one of the highest consumers of power per capita.

Singapore will continue to score well in cloud availability and fibre connectivity. Faster, denser fibre generally allows for the lowest latency and better network reliability when functioning with major cloud services. Singapore’s robust fibre network will enhance its position as a regional hub supporting the storage of data that is generated in megacities nearby including Jakarta.

New Zealand has already embraced cloud computing enthusiastically. Studies have identified the increasing importance of the public cloud as a platform for digital innovation, concluding that organisations cannot innovate without leveraging all cloud technologies.

Now, the country is about to experience a whole new dimension in cloud computing with the arrival of its first hyper-scale data centre region.
Developed by a multinational tech giant, the new hyper-scale data centre region will create massive opportunities for organisations to leverage the capabilities of cloud infrastructure in the country. It could open the floodgates to cloud migration for New Zealand organisations— those in the banking, financial services, insurance, and public sectors which are required to store data locally.

The banking, finance and insurance sector is already the largest user of public cloud services, followed by the public sector. Once the new data centre region opens, these sectors will be able to keep all their files, including backups, onshore in New Zealand.

Researchers found evidence of huge growth in the use of cloud technologies in New Zealand, where 38% of organisations already take a cloud-first approach to investment in new IT systems. The research also shows that the establishment of New Zealand’s first hyper-scale data centre region will produce a ‘cloud dividend’ that will spur innovation, create skilled jobs, and open new opportunities for the country to export its innovations. It also estimates spending on public cloud services will almost double over the next four years, with cloud deployment creating 102,000 new jobs, including 18,500 skilled IT roles, in the same period.

However, the shortage of cloud skills in New Zealand is already well known. Demand for skills to manage cloud environments has outstripped supply and the launch of the new data centre region will create additional demand. To address this, the multinational tech giant is offering free certifications and training to enable IT professionals, to gain cloud skills. Businesses wanting to take full advantage of the cloud should encourage and support workers to take up these opportunities. The tech giant has also launched a series of Innovation Workshops to get people exploring, and realising, the innovation possibilities offered by their platform.

Regarding security, there are considerable benefits to using public cloud services. The tech giant offers a range of security features as standard that would be expensive to obtain by other means. Despite this, some organisations are reticent to use the cloud because of perceived security issues, those considering using the cloud to support Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing deployments. These issues can all be addressed by cloud services with the right configuration, based on a holistic view of security across the cloud environment, said the tech company.

With these recent expansions of cloud services, the company believes that tech developers will increasingly turn to public cloud services to create new technology products and services to benefit businesses and consumers. The more people with cloud skills, the more the country will benefit.
Accordingly, reports say that New Zealand needs to open its arms when it comes to new technology, with one industry expert saying that the country is not coping with enough change.

Experts say that New Zealand needs to embrace technology and not treat it as a threat. More and faster technology adoption will open opportunities to improve New Zealanders’ living standards, they added. Embracing technology implies supporting people who are less able to adjust, preparing young people for the future and setting policies and institutions that encourage the entry and uptake of new knowledge, processes, goods, and services by firms. A growing number of organisations believe in the important role that technology will have to help create a prosperous, safe, and sustainable New Zealand for the future.

The adoption of cloud computing across Southeast Asia has expanded in terms of services offered and the number of industry competitors entering the market. According to reports, the cloud computing market revenue in the region is estimated to reach US$ 40.32 billion by 2025.

Cloud technology is popular because it is cheaper than installing local servers and it allows regional companies to connect and compete on the global platform. Additionally, at least 57% of large enterprises in Singapore intend to move their finance systems to the cloud. The report also found that one-third (33%) of these companies expect to do so in the next six to 12 months.

However, with the rapid cloud adoption, it holds to logic that cyberattacks are also on the rise. Over a fifth, (21%), of businesses in the country, saw more cyberattacks during the crisis. This landscape necessitates a new optic where the risk profiles of organisations are prioritised and protecting sensitive data and its resources are critical more than ever.

With this phenomenal growth, there is more data in more places and it all must be protected. Data security and residency demand in Singapore are continuously growing as businesses expand. Customers assume and expect that when utilising digital programs and services, their personal information is safe.  IT and business leaders want to know where data is being stored to have more control over how it is being managed and protected. Thus, the need for better data integration and protection technology. With the vast amounts of information and data to collect, work with and safeguard, organisations in the country are increasingly embracing a multi-cloud strategy and cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) – exactly where ServiceNow fits in.

ServiceNow satisfies Singapore organisations’ demands to drive business-wide transformation in highly regulated industries with the Now Platform, available on Microsoft Azure Regions, in Singapore, certified to Singapore’s cloud security standard – the Multi-Tier Cloud Security Standard (MTCS).

The MTCS Standard for Singapore was prepared under the direction of the Information Technology Standards Committee (ITSC) of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). The ITSC promotes and facilitates national programs to standardise IT and communications and Singapore’s participation in international standardisation activities.

Generally, MTCS provides a framework to enable cloud service providers are safeguarding customer data and meeting the necessary government regulations of Singapore. For many, embracing MTCS is not only about compliance – even those who are not formally required to comply with MTCS are beginning to use it. Industries like financial services, healthcare, and the public sector want to prove that they are looking for robust ways to protect private data.

MTCS Level 3 – an elite standard for data protection

Not all cloud security standards are created equal. MTCS’ tiered approach accounts for this by providing different security levels. It ranges from a lower cost, baseline option (Level 1) to an extremely rigorous certification (Level 3).

To achieve Level 3 standards, cloud services companies must pass an audit conducted by an authorised third-party Certifying Body (CB). The assessor reviews the breadth of the CSP’s Information Security policies and procedures to determine that the CSP has designed effective security controls in compliance with MTCS requirements. The auditors also review an entire suite of evidence to confirm that these controls have been implemented and operating effectively.

For example, if an organisation’s policy claims to conduct background checks on all employees, the assessor will ask for proof. They may request a list of 100 employees onboarded during the audit period and randomly select individuals from the list to review and test that those background screenings were conducted comprehensively and appropriately. This means that the organisation will need to provide evidence that proves they are complying with the MTCS requirements.

ServiceNow is certified to Level 3, the highest level in the MTCS certification tiering.

Advancing data protection in Singapore with ServiceNow.

It is no longer enough to have one area of the business under secure measures – organisations need security controls across the entire infrastructure. Having strong encryption and appropriate access controls allows Singapore organisations to prevent threat actors from unauthorised access – and ServiceNow provides these capabilities.

The company provides a clear picture of how the platform’s architecture is built, so users know where their data is being hosted and who has access to that data. With this, clients are the custodian of their data and they maintain control over who is permitted to access their data and when.

Multiple encryption solutions for the protection of data are also on the table. For example, with Edge Encryption, customers can configure fields and attachments for encryption, manage encryption keys and rules, and schedule mass encryption jobs from the admin console to mitigate data leakage. Even in the worst-case scenario, if a user experiences a significant data breach or cybersecurity attack, the data will remain encrypted upon exposure, preventing unauthorised parties from being able to read or understand the confidential information and all its content.

With the platform in place, customers can keep data within Singapore, meeting the growing demand for data residency. Government, financial services, and other highly regulated customers’ can accelerate their digital transformation while meeting MTCS Level 3 requirements and data residency laws. And by adopting and complying with the highest level of certification standards, the company meets customers’ data protection needs.

Successful partnerships are built on trust, and the company has a global team of dedicated security, privacy and compliance experts that protect data every hour of every day of the year. As cyber threats and compliance needs evolve, ServiceNow will identify, prioritise, and respond to threats faster, while complying with global standards to help everyone embrace data security and maintain confidence in the cloud.

Learn more about how ServiceNow protects data for organisations in highly regulated industries.

SINGAPORE, 1 April 2021 – NCS will integrate DataSpark, a telco-centric data science and engineering subsidiary of Singtel Group, under its growing NCS NEXT organisation. This integration expands NCS’ capabilities in providing end-to-end advanced analytics and big data solutions with mobility intelligence services. NCS and DataSpark clients can better harness big data for digital transformation, augment their existing data platforms with geo-spatial data, and transform the data into mobility intelligence to draw deeper customer insights and drive business outcomes.

 Ng Kuo Pin, Chief Executive Officer, NCS said, “We want to be a trusted digital transformation partner for governments and enterprises in the Asia Pacific region and are committed to helping our clients succeed by harnessing new technologies in big data, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence. Adding DataSpark’s geo-spatial and mobility intelligence services to our already robust end-to-end data capabilities opens up new possibilities for our clients, by enabling them to draw an incredibly detailed understanding of how people and their customers move, identifying unmet needs and growth opportunities.”

A key capability of DataSpark is using mobility data intelligence to help organisations make better-informed business strategy and plans by understanding how people move, where they go, and what they do. This is done by processing large amounts of anonymised mobile, Global Positioning System (GPS), public transport, road network, immigration, and census data. In 2020, DataSpark successfully gathered anonymised telco-sourced data on changes in unique daily worker volumes within Singapore and Australia’s Central Business Districts (CBD), which provided insights and solutions into the future of workers in CBD offices.

Shaowei Ying, Chief Operating Officer, DataSpark, said, “DataSpark’s presence in high-growth markets and unique capabilities in mobility data intelligence are a natural complement to NCS’ growth strategy in Asia Pacific. By joining the NCS family, we can expand our digital footprint to reach new clients in a variety of sectors such as healthcare, out-of-home media, retail, tourism, transport, urban planning, and more. With the synergy of NCS’ resources and NCS NEXT teams, we are excited to explore the growth opportunities this integration will bring and will continue to innovate to help our clients make informed business decisions with mobility data and actionable insights.”

With a presence in Australia (known as DSpark), Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore, DataSpark offers a range of solutions ranging from artificial intelligence and machine learning to bespoke telecommunication data tools.

DataSpark will continue to run independently under NCS NEXT to further accelerate and expand its product and service offerings.

There’s no question the global pandemic has meant a further acceleration toward digital transformation by both government and industry. But with so much happening so fast, it is hard to know what is happening and what is actually helping.

OpenGov Asia had a chance to speak exclusively with Peter Lees, Chief Technologist and Head of Pre-sales for SUSE Asia Pacific & Japan, and with Tan Meng Wai, Head of Customer Engineering, Global Public Sector, Google Cloud Asia Pacific, about one of the fastest, most efficient ways to achieve transformation.

SUSE, a global leader in innovative, reliable and enterprise-grade open source solutions,  has partnered with Google Cloud, the creator of the open-source Kubernetes platform, to deliver an agile, streamlined application delivery platform to launch a DevOps business model.

Peter Lees, Chief Technologist and Head of Pre-sales, SUSE Asia Pacific & Japan

Peter Lees explained, “If you think about what we mean by digital transformation, it’s the idea that every single business process has to be expressed in some digital form. And if you want to adapt it, it has to be done in a digital form. The faster you can do that, then the faster you can bring that idea, business or service to market. That’s the advantage that these microservices-based, agile technologies bring you.”

Specifically, Peter is talking about Containers, the smallest units that you can put an application in and run it. He describes it as a very tiny virtual machine. “The great thing about containers is, it makes it easy to move items around, to change them, to update your application quickly. But this can cause problems. You may have hundreds or thousands of containers to run one application. It would be best if you had something to manage all that, and that’s what Kubernetes is all about. It’s like the sheepdog that manages the sheep.”

Peter may be drawing on his native Australian roots, perhaps envisioning a sheep ranch in the Outback, but you get the reference, right?

Google Cloud’s Meng Wai agreed that Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerised workloads and services. “The reason it is important, it gives organisations the ability to roll out new capabilities, new applications and new customer experiences at a speed which was previously not possible.”

Peter added that containers also help ease the transition in another way, “If you broke up your big application into ten microservices, and you needed to run each of those micro-services on its own virtual machine, you will end up using a lot of virtual machines. Then you multiply that by the number of applications that you are running concurrently, you are going to end up using a lot of resources, just to run some small bits of code.”

Microservices are a way to make rapid changes to your applications so that when a new business opportunity comes along, or something catastrophic happens, like a public pandemic, and you need to change everything, then you can make those changes quickly and consistently, he explains.

“It’s not just one management tool managing a whole set of containers. It groups things.  When you start an application, you’re starting twenty or thirty containers that are all working together, all talking together to make the full application. What Kubernetes can do is make sure all those containers are running together, talking together, have the same security context, are all started at the same time.”

Tan Meng Wai, Head of Customer Engineering, Global Public Sector, Google Cloud Asia Pacific

Meng Wai said it can also enable an organisation’s multi-cloud strategy, “Because it’s open-source, it runs equally well on-premise in a private cloud, and also allows organisations to scale and take advantage of public clouds. So I think Kubernetes, containers, DevOps – all these work well together to address concerns, about technology, process, or culture, and can enable organisations to accelerate their digital transformation strategy.”

He continued, “What Google Cloud offers is a shared responsibility model. If an organization runs Kubernetes on a private cloud, they take responsibility for everything. They’re responsible for the infrastructure, security, and applications. We offer a shared responsibility model; if you look at the bottom of the stack for ‘Infrastructure as a Service,’ we manage everything from infrastructure, hardware, and storage. On the other extreme, Software as a Service, we’ll manage everything except content.” With Kubernetes, we manage the Kubernetes infrastructure removing some key operational tasks from the customer.

Customers must still bring the ability to deploy their applications and secure their applications because the workload is still theirs, cautioned Meng Wai and Peter. They add that cloud migration, obviously, is a complex execution that needs to be planned and executed very carefully. Businesses should begin by defining a starting point and an end point.

“Assuming a lot of customers are starting on-prem and would like to move to the public cloud to take advantage of the scalability of the public cloud, here are the steps for consideration. You need to understand and assess the type of workloads that you have,” said Meng Wai.

Generally, there are two types of workloads, the ‘legacy’ workloads and ‘cloud-native’ workloads. Legacy workloads were developed without any consideration for cloud because they probably existed before cloud technologies, so it can be difficult and quite expensive to modify and run on a cloud. On the other hand, cloud-native workloads are natively scalable, available and leverage the security models of cloud technologies.

There are also different types of migration. There is the “lift and shift,” which is moving one VM on-prem to another VM on the public cloud to take advantage of the scalability. But with Kubernetes technology, can do even better with an approach called Lift and Optimise.

“So instead of just moving a VM to VM, there’s the ability to containerise it and run it on  Kubernetes to take advantage of the scalability and agility offered by containers,” said Meng Wai.

Another type of migration is “Rip and Replace”. For applications that are just too painful and expensive to move, it makes more sense to redevelop the entire application taking advantage of cloud-native technologies and moving it to the public cloud.

Peter said, “the general idea here is that it does take planning. There are standard things to think about regardless of what type of migration you’re thinking of doing. What’s your disaster recovery plan? What kind of network security do you need? How are you going to make sure the right people are accessing the applications the right way?  These are fundamental things that will need to be applied, that are not really new, because the cloud exists, but how do you answer them in the cloud context.”

Compliance and security are also critical issues to consider,” said Meng Wai, “In a shared responsibility model, we take on some of these regulatory risks working with our compliance teams, our public policy teams and with customers to understand the regulatory and compliance requirements specific to industries and  countries.”

He continued, “For example, Google Cloud has a capability called Computing with Confidential VMs. It’s key because it addresses the last mile of data encryption. We’ve always talked about data encryption at rest, data encryption in transit, so what Confidential Computing provides is data encryption in processing as well. This provides the ultimate security in encryption for customers regardless of where the data is residing, is moving or is processing. .”

And as a practical example, Peter pointed to a surprising industry that’s benefitting from the SUSE and Google Cloud tie-up, “In the retail space across Europe and America, especially vendors who are seeing a lot of growth at the moment. Because of the restrictions, they have to bring all their business to a digital world, rather than a physical world; they’re seeing great advantage to moving over to a cloud-based model so they can make use of this. Combined with SAP and their logistics system, SUSE is an obvious choice.”

Leading digital workflow company, ServiceNow, launched the first of its’ global service offerings to Singapore organisations in highly regulated industries – with the Now Platform available on Microsoft Azure.

Singapore customers are among the first in the world to use the Now Platform on Azure, to deliver business-wide transformation, while meeting data residency requirements for how sensitive information is stored, shared, protected and used. The level of digital adoption and market readiness has been a catalyst for ServiceNow’s continued growth and investment in Singapore, supporting the nation’s digital agenda.

ServiceNow Managing Director and Asia Vice President Mr Wee Luen Chia said, “ServiceNow is highly committed to supporting Singapore’s Smart Nation agenda. This announcement is a major milestone in support of this agenda; and is an outcome of regular, open conversations on how to help Singapore organizations leverage digital transformation to deliver smart experiences and improve productivity.”

Country Manager for Singapore Karen Chong said highly-regulated customers won’t be getting a new platform, but rather a new option to scale digital offerings at speed and this has been adopted quickly by leading organisations in Singapore.

Karen said organisations in highly regulated industries can now access the same Now Platform – the platform of platforms – that is already helping so many Singapore customers scale their digital investments and make work better.

“For organisations to embrace this workflow revolution they need to leverage one platform, one data model, to deliver business efficiencies and drive productivity. Integrating software applications at scale means you can reach your business’ transformation goals, faster and without added complexity. ServiceNow offers a platform that connects all your workflow and software applications across customer service, IT, supply chains, ERP, finance, employee and more.”

To help Singapore’s highly-regulated industries better understand this opportunity, Karen shared that ServiceNow has teamed up with various agencies in the public sector.“We work closely with Singapore government authorities by having the Multi-Tier Cloud Security (MTCS) test-ready, we received level 3-certification, the highest in MTCS. We also achieved strict data security compliance in accordance with government regulations and standards to ensure we meet the needs of highly-regulated industries in Singapore.”

“Most organisations considering transformation investments look closely into the availability of physical data infrastructure when investing in technology,” Karen said. “ServiceNow’s investments in local data storage ensures that it can support seamless, secure workflows to meet the breadth of products and services offered by Singapore’s enterprises.”

ServiceNow’s collaboration with Microsoft Azure in Singapore will enable the city state’s public sector to be among the first in the world to take advantage of a potent mix of automation processes, connectivity and seamless experiences to deliver smart, simple ways to work. Several Governments, including GovTech, use ServiceNow’s Now Platform. Also, NCS, a ServiceNow and Microsoft technology partner to Singapore Government and highly regulated industries such as banking, healthcare and transport have a proven track record in digital transformation for government and enterprises.

NCS Managing Director, Global Delivery, Keith Leong said, “With ServiceNow and Microsoft, NCS is able to offer best of breed solutions for our clients to enable them to accelerate the implementation of secure, digital workflow automation, especially for highly regulated organisations that rely on local data residency.”

Following on from its investment in workforce management (WFM), a tech provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Payroll Software (PS) in New Zealand and Australia, is set to launch a new solution to market design to help simplify and streamline workforce management for shift-based businesses across the region.

The company says the upcoming release of the new workforce management attachment will mark a new milestone for its Enterprise division, which will now provide mid-market businesses with the opportunity to combine their ERP, PS and WFM software under a single, seamless integrated cloud platform.

As well as being available as an attachment to the new platform, customers managing larger workforces will also be able to take advantage of the new workforce management solution which can be easily added to their existing software.

The tech firm’s Enterprise Head of Product, says that to fulfil their business’ growth potential and remain competitive, it is more important than ever for employers to ensure they are equipped with the right tools to successfully manage their ever-changing workforces. He said that they have seen from the results of the Ministry of Innovation and Employment’s National Survey of Employment Intentions that there is a clear drive amongst mid-market businesses to grow their employee numbers in 2021.

22% of businesses with 20 or more employees are also expecting to increase the number of part-time staff. While it is heartening to see such positivity around hiring ambitions, the benefits of bringing new talent into a business can only really be maximised when the whole process is managed well, he added.

Complete with features that cater to the needs of shift-based workforces, the new cloud-driven workforce management offering will be available in New Zealand from early April and Expressions of Interest are now open for mid-market businesses who want to take advantage of the new release.

Capabilities offered through the new solution will see businesses in industries like retail, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing and construction, create and automate rosters based on employee skills, onboard new starters quickly and easily, streamline timesheet approvals, and seamlessly manage workforces across multiple locations.

In contrast, due to the increased adoption of managed infrastructure services, the emergence of new cloud watering hole attacks also continues to rise. According to research, of all violations identified, 23% correspond to poorly configured managed service offerings largely the result of default security profiles or configurations that offer excessive permissions.

According to a cloud cyber resilience specialist, attackers increasingly strive to leverage weaknesses that enable them to deliver malware to end-users, gain unauthorised access to production environments or their data, or completely compromise a target environment.

This strategy is known as a watering hole attack, and researchers have seen them emerge in cloud environments where they can cause even more damage. This is partly because development processes in the cloud that leverage managed services are not hidden inside the organisation as they are in on-premises environments, they are largely exposed to the world.

When criminals can exploit misconfigurations in development pipelines, it can spell disaster not only for the company but also its customers. To address this risk, enterprises should assume the entire development process is easily accessible and restrict access to only the users who need it. They added that the cloud infrastructure must be continuously monitored in runtime for configuration changes and assessed for risk.

Moreover, rapid cloud adoption, targeted remote working, double extortion ransomware attacks and mobile targets are amongst the key cybersecurity trends resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to researchers.

Therefore, as reported by OpenGov Asia, New Zealand Tech Alliance (NZTech) whose purpose is “to connect, promote and advance tech ecosystems and help the New Zealand economy grow to create a prosperous digital nation”, feels that the government must be more proactive in educating the population on cybersecurity.

OpenGov Asia also reported on a study done by a New Zealand cybersecurity firm that says as organisations accelerate their spending on cloud migration and digitalisation to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, many may be overestimating their ability to protect their systems and their processes. It is estimated that about 80% of cybercrimes could be prevented. Simple measures like using and updating complex passwords and installing updates go a long way in safety.

The Philippines has been recognised for its best practices in adopting cloud services even though government agencies supposedly have a long way to go towards fully implementing its use in the delivery of services. Cloud technology is an on-demand availability of computer system resources, data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. This importance of cloud tech is magnified by companies implementing work-from-home arrangement, and other efforts in digital transformation to cope with the new normal brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Considering this, an international collaboration platform formally launched its cloud-based software in the country. Founded in 2012, the cloud developers said the platform enables local businesses, whether small or large scale, to build and create custom dashboards, allowing teams to work together and oversee various operations — from project management, HR, CRM and Sales, and IT — all in one workspace.

The tech company was founded on the belief that transparency and collaboration create a culture of ownership and empowerment. They added that their products are visual, easy and intuitive making them ready to customise according to needs. With these in mind, users can easily communicate with everyone whether they are working from home, on the road or in the office.

Officials from the tech firm presented a virtual live demonstration to showcase how the platform can be set up in minutes and transform into a collaborative workspace that fits the needs of any organisation of various industries. Local businesses who are current users of the platform also shared their first-hand experience on how the cloud tech helped their teams and how it made flexibility and productivity possible despite team members working remotely.

For the users, with work-from-home parameters set, collaboration is the key to navigate in the age of COVID-19. Through the cloud, they believe that teams can efficiently work together from various locations. The cloud’s main features include the following:

  • Flexibility — There are over 200+ ready-made templates to customise the platform for any workflow build custom work applications for any workflow
  • Intuitiveness — All projects and tasks can be viewed with a single glance; has multiple dashboards for ease of use and updates
  • Collaborative — Easy communication as files are centralised in one place
  • Seamless — Any existing work tools can be easily integrated into the platform

Accordingly, as reported by OpenGov Asia, The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) amended its Cloud First Policy to provide clearer instructions on policy coverage, data classification, and data security. It also covers policies on sovereignty, residency, and ownership as the government transitions to the ‘new normal’ amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

DICT said that the Philippine government’s Cloud First Policy promotes cloud computing as the preferred technology for government administration and the delivery of government services. Shifting to cloud computing is expected to foster flexibility, security, and cost-efficiency among users. Cloud computing also offers key advantages such as access to global systems of solutions, innovations, and services, as well as up-to-date cybersecurity.

At the same time, an American tech giant said that the policy of the DICT is flexible and adaptive to the IT demands of government agencies. He advised the department to develop a classification policy that will ensure the security of data being handled by the public sector while at the same time upholding the right of the citizens to be informed of vital government transactions.

The tech giant further stated that the public sector should evaluate their cloud product based on its capability to provide high security, ensure the privacy of personal information, and guarantee technology reliability. Moreover, a good cloud product must be compliant with all regulations and must be aligned with the agencies’ duty of accountability and for agencies to be able to look at the technology that can support their societal goals and help improve environmental sustainability.

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