Singapore public sector websites move to AWS

October 27th, 2017 | by Grace Chng
Singapore public sector websites move to AWS

ILLUSTRATION: Blue Coat Photos (Creative Commons)

There’s plenty of talk about “The Cloud,” that enigmatic entity at the heart of the Internet today. It is not a new concept, having been around for more than 10 years. But its use has surged in recent years.

According to consultancy firm Bain & Company, cloud services will grow 17 per cent on a compound annual growth basis. Global cloud IT revenue is expected to reach almost US$400 billion in 2020, it added.

Organisations are jumping from physical data centres to the cloud for compute and storage capacity. It is not only cost but also the ability to access added capacity as and when needed seamlessly and quickly.

All manner of companies are using them. It could be real estate, retail, government, life sciences or oil and gas, from small to large enterprises. But governments that were previously loathe to use something that is not controlled by them are also jumping over to the cloud.

In Singapore, the public sector has also found that cloud services have provided compute, storage and networking capacity faster, more conveniently and at lower costs.

No figures have been given. However, the government has enjoyed economies of scale and faster deployment when they switched its content website platform to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The switch began at the end of 2016. So far, 380 public agency portals have moved to AWS. By the end of 2017, 400 websites will be on AWS.

Senior director Tan Eng Pheng, of the GovTech Agency, said the move to AWS provided the public sector with economies of scale and faster development.

“In seven days, a portal is ready to be published. Through this central management and integration, we’ve saved manpower, cost and time,” he said at a recent AWS Public Sector Summit.

This is among the government’s first initiatives using public cloud, part of the Singapore government’s efforts to improve efficiency, timeliness and cost advantage to government agencies, he added.

Previously, individual agencies would have to buy their own hardware, software and networking services, and ensure security patches are done regularly. All this are resource-intensive but important processes that AWS have taken over.

With the switch, each public sector agency provides its own content. The website designer appointed by the agency picks a content management system software provided by AWS. When the code is ready, the portal can be quickly deployed for testing, undergoing security checks before it is published.

It should be noted that only unclassified content is used on the public cloud service offered by AWS.

Over at the Genome Institute of Singapore, Professor Swaine Chen said that genomic research is producing terabytes of information. The GIS has between three and five petabytes of information in on-premises storage. But storage requirements is growing, he said, adding that each time it would need about S$1 million to procure extra storage.

Cloud services provided by AWS is useful, because its requirements for storage and computing resources can be scaled up quickly and at lower costs, he added.

AWS has reported revenue increased 42 per cent year-on-year to reach US$4.5 billion, which makes it on track to become a US$18 billion business.

That’s bigger than its three nearest competitors – Microsoft, Google and IBM – which together accounted for 30.8 per cent of the market, said research firm Canalys.

Peter Moore, AWS’ regional managing director, said at the Public Sector Summit that globally the company is experiencing 42 per cent year on year growth. Among its customers are Discovery, Kellogs, Coca Cola and Zillow. Local customers include Singapore Post and Perx.

Tertiary institutions in Singapore are also offering the AWS Educate programme which teaches students cloud computing skills so that they know how to use cloud when they start working. Students graduating with cloud computing skills can expect higher salaries, he added.

CORRECTION and CLARIFICATIONS at 03/11/2017, 7:56am: The name of senior director of GovTech Agency, Tan Eng Pheng was wrongly spelt in the original story and has been corrected. We are sorry for the error. Separately, AWS’ revenues have been updated in the story to reflect the latest reporting from the company. And GovTech has clarified that and were already on AWS before 2016, which was reported in an earlier version of this story.

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