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Amazon Web Services Leading the Way for Public Sector Transformation
September 26, 2019 News


While enterprises both big and small continue to make the most out of cloud services, the public sector ,which in Amazon’s definition is made up of government agencies, healthcare, education and NGOs are also beginning to realise the benefits of using cloud.

For Amazon Web Services (AWS), cloud in the public sector paves the way for innovation. It offers:

  • Advanced Technology and Tools
  • Develop New Ideas and Skills
  • Accelerate Innovation
  • Increase Agility
  • Cost Savings

At the same time, AWS believes that cloud helps make the world a better place. It enables:

  • World-Changing Projects
  • Economic Development
  • Citizen Services and Engagement
  • Research and Education

In Southeast Asia, there have been government agencies, education institutes and NGOs using AWS for various reasons. Examples include agencies in the Singapore government to NGOs like WWF. In Malaysia, Asia Pacific University uses AWS and automation to become a fully cashless campus and also using IoT devices for attendance. The university has seen delivery improved by 150 times and spent 90 times less on managing infrastructure.

The Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippines, is another example. They used AWS services to develop an information database of 911 emergency responders on a GIS platform with call and case analytics. Since implementing the system on AWS, the bureau has now access to the data during emergency situations whenever they need it, compared to previously when it was only available on-premise.

Other examples include the International Rice Research Institute who used AWS to run its ERP systems and was able to reduce time to develop testing environments drastically from several weeks to just two hours.

According to Vincent Quah, Regional Head, Education, Research, Healthcare and NGO, Worldwide Public Sector, Asia Pacific and Japan, AWS, there is still a lot of potential for the public sector make full use of the cloud and its services.

Pricing, procurement and security

When it comes to pricing, Vincent explained that AWS practices an open policy on this with all pricing made available on their public domain. He added that if some organisations have larger projects and are willing to commit, there will be room for discussion on a more cost-saving rate. This is because the pricing is based on the needs and volume consumed. There is not much difference between the public sector and other businesses.

“The adoption of AWS in the public sector varies from country to country. We are always focused on the customer. We want to understand them well and understand what they want to achieve and work backwards from there. If there are not clear on what they want, we will discuss to clarify, advice and consult them. The more focused we are, the better we are to help customers achieve their goals.”

When it comes to procurement, Vincent explained that AWS follows all procurement processes in each country. This is done by working with the local partners in each country. The partners will decide on pricing solutions. He added there are different types of services when it comes to this. Large projects come with infrastructure services, software services and consulting services. AWS is just one part of that.

Security on the cloud is always a concern. Vincent pointed out that AWS has the deepest set of security capabilities and tools provided to customers. AWS has 200 plus services dedicated to security and compliance.

“We are very committed to security. It’s our number one job. AWS is an online cloud service provider. It’s our only business. It’s incumbent we protect and provide the best security services for our customers to protect their data. But security is also a shared responsibility. AWS secures the cloud. The physical infrastructures and access are taken care of by us. But when customers run their solution, they are responsible for their security on the cloud they have to put their own firewall and security protocol. It’s a handshake between customers and us. We will advise them on best practices.”

AWS in Malaysia

In Malaysia, Vincent commented that AWS is now identifying their local partners that can serve the public sector. AWS is just beginning to build the Malaysian ecosystem, but Vincent admits that there is a lot of potential in the public sector. A recent example would be the Selangor state’s launch of the citizen’s online platform (CEPAT).

“This innovative idea to bring all the payment systems into a single service simplifies the citizen’s engagement. This would definitely drive the Smart Selangor Nation initiative.”

On conversations with the government, Vincent said AWS is aligned with the government’s objectives which is the realisation of the need for a digital transformation in the sector. AWS believes there is the value that they can bring to the customer and also innovation they can bring to customers as well.

AWS enabling IR4.0

Interestingly, Vincent pointed out that the public sector can benefit a lot from IR4.0. With smart healthcare and smart education becoming ever so demanding, there are a few specific techs impacting everyone. They are:

  • Big data
  • IoT
  • AI and ML
  • Web services
  • Cloud computing

“If you look at these five technologies that will disrupt and bring changes, the first four needs the cloud to do anything meaningful. You can’t do it if you don’t have access to that breath and scale of the cloud services. Without the cloud, you can’t do large scale projects. You need to leverage the cloud to achieve other trends.”

With that said, Vincent believes that public sector cloud adoption in Southeast Asia and the world is only at the beginning of its journey. The adoption is growing rapidly though with increased demand reflected in AWS as they grew 37% year on year last quarter based on a US$ 33 billion run rate.

As Vincent puts it, “Each country will take their own journey on their movement in the cloud. In time, very few customers will have their own data centres. Everyone will move to the cloud.”