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EXCLUSIVE – The journey behind the world’s first Government Integrated Data Centre (GIDC) in Korea

EXCLUSIVE The journey behind the worlds first Government Integrated Data Centre GIDC in Korea

Tell us about your role and responsibilities as the President of NCIS.

NCIS is the Korean GIDC (Government Integrated Data Center).
NCIS provides all sorts of ICT resources in a specialised and integrated manner for its 44 client agencies to provide more than 1,500 e-government services to the public without fail 24/7 and 365 days. NCIS is indeed the heart and engine of Korean e-Government. Therefore, I’m responsible for operating and managing all these resources stably, safely and reliably.                  

More specifically :

– Computer systems for e-Gov. services           
– Network connectivity service to government agencies

Design, Installation and Provisioning           
– Computer and network resources for each e-Gov. Service           
– Cloud as a Service : IaaS ( PaaS and SaaS will be followed soon )           
– Cyber Security Mitigation against Hacking and DDoS etc.

IT Industry promotion           
– Defining Technical Specification for NCIS systems ( H/W, S/W )           
– Internship program for college senior students 

Many countries are still in the process of building up national government data centres now but NCIS had already completed integrating systems from 40 central administrative organisations as early as 2007. Could you share with us how the journey was like in building the GIDC, which started in 2003?

First of all, let me explain a bit about the background of establishment of NCIS.

E-Government services of Korea started to be developed actively and competitively from early 2000. This movement expedited the development of e-government of Korea, however, it could cause a number of side effects at the same time such as redundant investments of government funds, shortage of proficient human resources and imbalanced management capability among ministries.

To comprehensively resolve all these problems, the government decided to establish the data centre exclusively for the government use with optimal infrastructure, environment and operational expertise. 

We conducted Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and confirmed the project to proceed during for a year from 2002 and 2003. Information Strategy Planning (ISP) and land inspection was completed until 2004.

In 2005, we finished building the first center and in 2006, systems of 22 institutes were migrated after re-engineering the organisations and introducing new equipment.
          At the end of 2007, the second center started its operation. New departments were launched and the system migration was started. 

The co-locating transfer projects of 22 agencies were concluded until 2008. Two centers of NCIS have comprehensively managed pan-governmental information resources since then.

Step-by-step co-locating plans for NCIS were formulated according to BPR/ISP.

Critical projects such as advancing National Information Communication Network, which needs to come along with NCIS implementation and enhancing information technology architecture, information security management system, ICT human resources table and organization were undertaken concurrently. 

To summarise the success factors for NCIS, there were strong leadership of the President, systematically designed plans, efficient communication system and prompt & determined initiative.                                 

What were some of the key lessons learnt from building up the GIDC and what can other countries learn from the process?

When the idea of co-location was first discussed, there were lots of resistance and opposition to face. First of all, all the 44 agencies to be migrated were not happy about the decision. They wanted to keep their own information systems, human resources and the budget. Agencies that operated crucial systems such as national tax, police, foreign affairs and finance services in post offices particularly refused to move theirs with reasons of secrecy and importance of data.

Therefore, authoritative agencies’ migration projects were directly mediated and settled by the President and T/F that directly reported to him.

All of technical issues (such as service route changes or IP addresses changes) arisen for systems not to be able to be transferred were successfully resolved in early stage with thoroughly designed mock drills and emergency response trainings in advance after discussing them with corresponding institutes.

Especially, the President’s commitment was definitely outstanding in proceeding this project. He checked all the progress per each step in person with corresponding ministers, examined whether BPR/ISP are practicably designed, and supported revising relative laws and regulations to be upgraded to accommodate new environment.

On top of that, Presidential committee did its great job in facilitating and making it success to migrate finance systems of post offices (considered as one of the sensitive and important systems). 

In that way they could promptly restore the people’s confidence.

How has government E-services improved for the citizens since the completion of the GIDC? Could you give us some examples?

First of all, they can expect and practice stable and safe e-government services. We can mitigate almost any type of cyber attack in real time. We auto-block almost 60,000~100,000 attacks per day.

Pre-defined types of attacks are auto-blocked in security device and newly detected Application DdoS Attack patterns are mitigated within 10 minutes.

Secondly, they can exercise and enjoy a variety of e-government applications designed and implemented by our 44 client agencies whose fundamental IT resources are powerfully supported by NCIS.

Thirdly, they can appreciate efficient use of government budget since national information asset implementation costs has been dramatically saved with NCIS’ integrated manner of system adoption. For instance, 60% of the system purchasing costs have been saved by introducing open SW based cloud computing systems.

Instead of purchasing resources in each institute individually, NCIS plays a role as a single acquisition and distribution window for all client agencies. In this way, we could save 30% of operational costs.                               

The GIDC is currently in the improvement phase. Could you share with us the major ongoing projects during the improvement phase?

We would like to accelerate converting our identity as national cloud computing center. We would finish transferring 60% of our total services into cloud, connecting the third center with cloud services by 2018, constructing cross backup systems in cloud among the centers until the backup center is ready by 2021.

We would expand the number of services supported from the Cloud platform and enhance PaaS and SaaS service providing capacity.

Ultimately, NCIS wants to rule 4 centers with S/W only, which is called SDDC, Software Defined Data Center in a near future.

In order to achieve this goal, we are carrying out a project called “Pilot SDDC construction project”. Infrastructure for SDDC will be prepared during 2018 to 2019. Furthermore, the cyber security management paradigm of NCIS would have been evolved from ESM, SIEM, and Machine Learning to Artificial Security Architecture (ASA). NCIS will be transformed into efficient and flexible SDDC based intelligent data center by 2022.

How does GIDC handle and manage the different datasets from the various government agencies and are there any collaborations between government agencies to better utilise data to better serve the citizens?

The ownership of Data stored in servers and storages still belongs to the client agencies. However, we have completed several data related platforms by getting consensus and collaborating with them such as Data.go.kr, Open.go.kr, and Share.go.kr.

NCIS internally started Big Data based SIEM system in 2015. It is a Big Data Analysis system especially focused on cyber security and operation efficiency management. It collects data generated by each system such as servers, network boxes, security gears and more not only from H/W but also from S/W as well. After that, it analyses them with Big Data technologies, Lucene and Hadoop Eco-System.

You had many years of experience in the IT industry and was the head of KrCERT, Korea Internet Security (KISA) from 2003-2008. How did those experiences prepare you for the role of the President of NCIS?

Basically, KISA is responsible for managing cyber security of private sectors. However, dealing with public cyber security has not many differences in taking care of those of privates. Those experiences of preventing, responding to and managing various types of cyber security threat attempts in KISA have been valuable for me to carry out current responsibility for sure. Frankly speaking, cyber security management task for public sector is much more difficult than private sectors. On top of that, I definitely appreciate resourceful and intelligent friends and colleagues from my previous profession both in local and abroad.

Data security is obviously very important when it comes to government-related data. What are your thoughts on data security and what advice would you give to governments in making their data more safe and secure?

As increasing number of government services will have relied on computer systems and network connectivity, security management should be one of the priorities to keep in mind to successfully provide them.

To protect the e-Gov. systems including data (user/government/agencies data etc.), we must remember the importance of prevention activities rather than protection ones.

Security is a skill with proper process and governance not just installing security boxes and systems.                                  

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