WSO2Con 2011: Multi-tenancy and Cloud Computing for E-Government Services - Mifan Careem
By WSO2Con 2011
- 17 Nov, 2011
E-Government: Dark Clouds
There is a clear indication that governments are moving toward the cloud at the local, state and national level. In fact, Mr. Careem noted, the federal cloud computing market alone is expected to grow from $370 million in 2009 to $1.2 billion in 2014. However, many government agencies are hesitant to commit to the cloud.
One concern is a fear that the cloud is just hype, Mr. Careem said. When it comes to governments, he added, they have to look closely at all of the details—how it will affect citizens, as well as the financial implications.
A second issue is data privacy: where data is going to be hosted and who can access it. For example, Mr. Careem noted, if one country’s government data is hosted in another country, what prevents the hosting country from taking that information and using it to their own advantage? Governments will demand that this and similar questions are addressed before making a move the cloud.
E-Government: Silver Linings
At the same time, Mr. Careem highlighted the many cloud benefits to governments—what he termed the silver linings of the cloud.
#1 Cloud applications and databases offer near unprecedented levels of scalability.
#2 The cloud enables the same applications to be used across many departments and agencies with minimal customization, reducing the time to deploy new instances, upgrade and replicate.
#3 The cloud allows governments to have one unified view of the whole country, and it offers better business intelligence on the large amounts of data stored there.
#4 Auditing and logging are enhanced by the cloud, since it provides traceability of all changes in content and applications.
#5 Cloud virtualization allows for effective backups, facilitating disaster recovery.
#6 Cloud computing is a green option compared to the high resource demands of data centers.
Government Cloud Computing Initiatives
Mr. Careem highlighted three cloud initiatives currently under way around the globe. The Japan Kasumigaseki Cloud, which is scheduled for completion in 2015, is designed to consolidate all government IT systems into a single cloud infrastructure to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. The UK G-Cloud, which is planned for completion in 2020, aims to move the total government infrastructure to the cloud, including government data centers, communal email, collaboration tools, staff-editable wikis, and the internal government application store. Finally, Mr. Careem noted, the USA is a front-runner in cloud computing with its Federal Cloud Computing Initiative plan and policies.
Inspired by these cloud-based e-government initiatives, Mr. Careem has developed a conceptual model for Sri Lanka to create a service-oriented architecture (SOA) based, multi-tenant cloud application for data management of local governments.
A majority of tasks are carried out by local government units in Sri Lanka, totaling nearly 330 departments, Mr. Careem explained. For them, cloud computing is a better option than the on-premise alternatives of installing an application in each department or one large application for everyone.
The conceptual cloud architecture takes advantage of information technology already in place, notably The Lanka Gate, which is managed by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka. This main portal allows various services, such as disaster management and licensing, to be exposed to the general public. The services talk to central databases, and on the sidelines, there are business rules and processes.
“You have an ability to customize business processes and business rules for each and every government department, which is a major requirement when it comes to a local government cloud computing approach,” Mr. Careem said. He also observed that the cloud deployment could take advantage of WSO2 components, such as the WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus, already in use within the existing information and communication technology (ICT) architecture.
"SOA, cloud computing and multi-tenancy can play a huge role for e-government applications,” Mr. Careem observed. “In terms of Sri Lanka, we have a very good platform initiated by the ICTA. We have a very good set of services provided by the local government units. And cloud computing can basically play a huge role in providing these e-services to citizens and having a better infrastructure for ICT in Sri Lanka."
For more information on e-government cloud computing initiatives, opportunities and challenges, view Mr. Careem's full presentation here.