A Way To Lower Barbados GOV ICT Management And Support Cost

Submitted by James Bynoe -  BCF Cyber Security/ICT Executive

Basic Cloud Architecture

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a new ICT approach to delivering computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet). Cloud computing provides computation, software applications, data access, data management and storage resources without requiring cloud users to know the location and other details of the computing infrastructure.

“Cloud computing has the potential to significantly lower Barbados government enterprise ICT cost while improving overall ICT operations and support services.”

Barbados government cloud computing end users would be able to access cloud based applications through a web browser or a light weight desktop or mobile app while the business software and data are stored on servers at a remote location. At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of infrastructure convergence and ICT managed services.

Cloud Computing ICT Security Concerns?

As an emerging new type of data centre environment they are still some security worries still impeding  cloud computing, many government lacks a complete framework of security requirements needed to start to consider cloud computing, which has been difficult to overcome and slowing global adoption of cloud computing, so “this” is where we should start in Barbados with ICT reform.

“Just using cloud computing in the delivery of Barbados government email and collaboration support services could save the Barbados government millions in ICT support and management cost over time.”

Why is Cloud Computing Needed in Barbados?

Governments worldwide are making investments in cloud computing to gain ICT efficiencies, lower ICT overall cost, increase their agility and competitiveness and so should Barbados.  They are also moving to “THE CLOUD” ( as it is often called) as a more cost-effective and simplify approach to IT management and investments.  Cloud computing would provide Barbados with a “HUG LEAP” in much needed Barbados Government ICT efficiencies as a newly proven ICT management and investment approach.  This would remove the many government ICT barriers to innovation and improve productivity with a scalable, secure and reliable government infrastructure.

In these challenging times the need to become more agile, innovate faster and be more cost-effective is driving the need for change is fuelling migration to the cloud, transforming IT delivery and creating new business opportunity are all things we need in Barbados.

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0 responses to “A Way To Lower Barbados GOV ICT Management And Support Cost

  1. Strangely enough this was a topic myself and a number of ex-colleagues were discussing today – in the vein or what goes around, comes around.

    This the way computing was done over 40 or 50 years ago before going out of fashion.

    Another current hot topic is Virtualization which we at Amdahl invented and introduced into the large computing arena in the early 1980′s, IBM followed some years later in the 1990′s and the rest of the computing world discovered only a couple of years ago.

    I would advise setting up a local home grown cloud, making sure the phone capacity is adequate to deal with the increased traffic.
    If the infrastructure and software needs are met locally, you not only gain in terms of cash saved but valuable experience gained into the bargain.

  2. You got there before me Sid. Couple questions for the techies

    1. What considerations should be given to bandwidth capacity before we jump into the clouds? Considering our “reliable” LIME.
    2. Do we have enough of homegrown computing security expertise to deal with the security issues that will arise, particularly if government jumps in the fray.
    3. Is the private/public realistically ready to embrace cloud computing? Given that they’re taking so long to embrace basic computing and (internet) networking possibilities???
    4. Cost is saved over time…any thought in terms of expected time to a return on investment?
    5. Is the suggestion using overseas based servers and infrastructure etc.or do we create our local hub?

    I smell new industries and services here but as usual ideas are a couple decades ahead of their implementation. Is there any private enterprise willing to make the investment and push the implementation and education?

    Asking instead of observing :)

  3. @observing

    Isn’t this the kind of project which the BCCI or one of the sectors can pilot?

  4. Observing (and turning techie)

    I guess. the thing is for cloud computing to work if you’re going with a local solution is to get widespread buy in. Barbados tends to be a bit parochial and short sighted when it comes to technology uses and benefits. Ten departments do ten different things to get the same results…spending five times as much money and taking twice as long as if they had integrated their services and data from day one. The Draft National ICT policy is now 7 years old. The data processing department is probably overworked and we’re still punching 2004 technological speed in a 2012 national car. Technology is simply a tool, not the be all and end all. When policy makers recognise that and act accordingly maybe then we’ll go somewhere. .

  5. Dear I say and I’m a national technologist and former National ICT Adviser , and the government has begun to use the type of technology mention in the article. Its called web applications, the same technology used to build websites is being used to build enterprise type applications within the Barbados government.

    I believe the ‘registry application’ is indeed a web application, to extend the application throughout government if not done so already would simply take firewall solutions at strategic points in a Wide Area Network. Which they already have…

    With regards to having an enterprise data centre .. the Data Processing Dept. spent a wash pan of money to bring its mail servers and websites in-house within the last 2 years, from what I was told its more than enough horse power to support more Cloud type applications than they currently do.

    Also, with regards to having the local ICT security expertise we have more than enough in Bim maybe not doing the type of jobs related to their training but Barbados has quite a few certified Network security professionals from Security +, Ethical Hackers and Certified Information Systems Security Professionals

    So its seem to me this article is pushing an open door of which I agree the government can use more applications of the like..

  6. Steven

    Thanks for your feedback respectfully I have a different take on a few of your observations:

    Your observation (1): “ Dear I say and I’m a national technologist and former National ICT Adviser , and the government has begun to use the type of technology mention in the article. Its called web applications, the same technology used to build websites is being used to build enterprise type applications within the Barbados government”.

    JB response: There is a difference between the enterprise configuration of a cloud environment and the classic web application environment. Principally amongst these differences in the fact that in cloud computing the day-to-day support of the ICT environment is handled by a third party cloud provider, lowering the in-house ICT management, and support burden on Government which include “cost”.

    Your observation (2): With regards to having an enterprise data centre .. the Data Processing Dept. spent a wash pan of money to bring its mail servers and websites in-house within the last 2 years, from what I was told its more than enough horse power to support more Cloud type applications than they currently do.

    JB response: The ICT cost bringing email servers in-house is the exactly what clould computing was design to lower, those in-house servers now have to be managed and securely maintained by in-house staff which cost often more than it should.

    Your observations (3): Also, with regards to having the local ICT security expertise we have more than enough in Bim maybe not doing the type of jobs related to their training but Barbados has quite a few certified Network security professionals from Security +, Ethical Hackers and Certified Information Systems Security Professionals

    JB response: It is a FACT that we have the raw talent to do almost anything ICT related in Barbados, however ironically the region as a whole still remains 7-10 years behind international ICT norms. We can also learn lots from international ICT lessons learned through knowledge transfer forums and activities with ICT leadership in and out of Barbados, as human capital exist everyhere that we can leverage in Barbados.

  7. To establish a cloud computing infrastructure would require a effective public private partnership between government and ICT providers like LIME, hence the challenge.

    LIME has struggled from an ICT perspective to invest in cultivating the ICT market in Barbados always looking to it’s bottom line. In doing so LIME is ironically shooting itself in the foot as it relates the lost revenue potential in emerging technologies like cloud computing ..

  8. @Observing

    Question (1) : What considerations should be given to bandwidth capacity before we jump into the clouds? Considering our “reliable” LIME.

    JB response: The government needs to lead an effort to establish public private partners with folks like LIME, as these businesses will need assistance expanding our national backbone footprint to a competitive level. There is not enough incentive for LIME and the like to go at this alone as you would think, especially in tough economic climate.

    Question (2) : Do we have enough of homegrown computing security expertise to deal with the security issues that will arise, particularly if government jumps in the fray.

    JB response: We all want the answer of this question to be yes and it largely is, however we lack the hands-on experience often needs with emerging technologies like Cyber Security. That is why I am a supporter of leveraging external talent side by side with local talent to facilities effective knowledge transfer. If you have never seen a denial of service attack often a rack of certification on the wall will not save you. We int he Caribbean tend to overemphasize the book knowledge part of ICT to the determent of raw talent.

    Question (3) : Is the private/public realistically ready to embrace cloud computing? Given that they’re taking so long to embrace basic computing and (internet) networking possibilities???

    JB response: The honest answer is that the public has no choice, if we are to survive as a nation in the post recession world. There are clear parallels between nations that effectively use ICT and a growth in GDP. We need to view the future of Barbados as version (2), and leave many of our historic ways of “thinking” and “not thinking” alone.

    Question (4) : Cost is saved over time…any thought in terms of expected time to a return on investment?

    JB response: They are key cloud computing capabilities that RIO (return) on investment can be realized in the near term (1-2 years) for example transferring government email and collaboration service and support to the cloud.

    Question (5) : Is the suggestion using overseas based servers and infrastructure etc, or do we create our local hub?

    JB response: No. The recommendation is for Barbados to establish a local cloud capability as provided by LIME or the like with the right incentives and cost structures.

  9. Observing (and learning)

    Thanks James

    Our seeming dependence on LIME raises its ugly head again. AS for getting people to think “out the box”, that is out of technology’s hands. Only a shift in attitudes and mindsets will bring about the reality some can see. It will take a technical person to foray into the realms of politics and policy making for any real change to happen. Either that or the private sector with a bag of money to invest would do that…but reality is that most private sector companies are keeping their bags close to their chest. Schools, SJPP and university will also have to diversify so we don’t depend on a once or twice a year training opportunity. Programmes and courses can be developed and rolled out.

    Any examples of countries that have implemented cloud on a wide scale. I know the USA has gone and is going full steam ahead even in government. Any others of similar economies of scale to ours?

  10. @Observer

    Read this article from a Jamaican newspaper titled : Cloud-computing market set to burst, It speaks to your question.

    http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20111109/business/business51.html

    it is appearing that one of the drawbacks to be a leading caribbean nation for many years is that we have become rigid and less agile to make big moves, and our regional ICT competitors are starting to smell blood in the water.

  11. I also believe that we need to invest “more” in schools like SJPP and move it from a second class citizen institution as compared to UWI, to the first class potential it has for youth that are better with their hands.

    Firewall, switch and routers key infrastructure compents require “hands” to mount and rack.

  12. Firewalls, switches, routers, and servers are key infrastructure components which require “hands” to mount and rack. Cyber Security requires hands and raw talent not just book knowledge to navigate threats and vulnerabilities identified.

  13. another regional nation:

    T&T article on cloud computing titled: Google partner lauds TSTT’s use of Cloud Computing

    http://www.tntmirror.com/2011/11/20/google-partner-lauds-tstts-use-of-cloud-computing

  14. Cloud computing is no silver bullet and I wouldn’t want the audience the believe that it is.. I’m of the firm believe that before we start giving all of our data and infrastructure over to some faceless company we need to start building national capacity to do and understand for ourselves.

    The Cloud is fine on a case by case basis .. its no silver bullet for every government office and department do you feel that every us government department is going to give Google their entire data operation to run and host of their behalf… Absolutely not!

    So why should the Barbados government wholesale pick and outsource certain services to 3rd parties.. what I would like to see is a ICT policy on exactly what can and should be outsourced and the departments and services that can do as economically feasible.

  15. Smooth Chocolate

    i am sick of people coming to meetings and then leaking the info here or passing that info to someone who then post it here. i know, this info was presented word for word at a certain meeting and it was NOT distributed to one person. james bynoe was not there. u people make me sick

  16. Observing (and feeling)

    @Smooth Chocolate
    It’s Barbados. Even in Cabinet we have “leaks”
    The question is, isthe information valuable? worthy of debate? confidential? does it compromise intellectual property? Might it actually help Barbados?

    I share and feel your frustration. Cursing the problem (or people) isn’t going to stop or help it.

    Walk good.

  17. Hi James on page 108 of CIO Best Practices: Enabling Strategic Value; you can find it on Amazon.com.

    It reads cloud computing certainly provides some cost savings but not in all cases and cost savings shouldn’t be the focus and its not the most important thing. What the writer stresses is the impact it has on business agility that being able to respond to changes in the business environment and since we all know that getting anything done in government takes an act of Cabinet and not simply a matter of executive decision, tell how would Cloud Computing would benefit a country’s government like Barbados again?

    First we have to change our attitudes and perceptional issues to doing business both in the public and private sector..not simply implement advanced technology to mask the real problems we have with doing business nationally.

    My background is Technology and I studied Business Transformation via IT for my MBA so to me its not just about implementing technology for technology sack but are we going to real value for it investment and simply an outsource sink hole of government at tax payer expense.

  18. Steve, I regard the meaning of the word “implement” as partially or wholly devising your own solution rather than tacking on to the back of someone else’s.
    When I get around to it, I intend to experiment with my own private cloud.
    I can do that due to the blessing of open source software where we all can share and give.
    Amazon (including its cloud) is built on open source software where the license says you must share with the rest of the world any enhancements you make and Amazon, IBM, Intel, NASA,Google, Disney and others do just that, though I’ve yet to see significant contributions from Facebook and Twitter.

    Even Microsoft has contributed it’s cloud software to the Linux kernel though they have labeled Linux as Communistic because the software is free as in freedom and free as in beer.

    For many years before retirement our company were obliged to do software audits on an annual basis so they pay Microsoft for every Widows seat in the company, except mine. I was able to do all they could do in Windows and more and all with free software, no audits, no fees.

    When Ernie Ball the No. 1 guitar string maker was taken to court by Microsoft for having more of their software than they were paying licenses for, they banned Windows from the company and are happily doing their business using Linux. The City of Largo in Florida runs all Linux and so does the City of Munich in Germany which a few days ago reported a significant decrease in problems since they switched to Linux. The Spanish region of Extradamura also runs Linux on everything including schools and libraries. The Russian Republic has mandated Linux be used by all government departments.
    When the then CEO of Novell was in Russia as part of a trade delegation he offered to help them implement Linux only to be asked by the Russian president if he thought they were retarded.

    As I said before, if you have an Android phone or a Dreambox they all run Linux, no doubt the TV set you own, the fridge, your netbook, the entertainment systems you use when you fly in a large airliner.

    It’s long overdue for the Caribbean to wake up to the value of free software, a goodly slice of the world already has.
    Do it yourself, gain knowledge and skills and save money at the same time.

    Have a read up on building your own private cloud.
    http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/infrastructure/221900737?pgno=2

  19. Backing up my earlier post, here is a video just released by the Linux Foundation briefly describing the Linux development process and where Linux is deployed. Every day you get on the internet you are attached to services run on Linux. The internet backbone is mostly based on Linux.

  20. Pingback: Cloud Computing for E-Government « ICT4D @ Tulane

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