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Beefing up the cloud

last updated 20 April 2017

Experts addressed issues such as developing talent and platform standards at the Singapore Computer Society's Cloud & Business Continuity Management Conference.

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Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive (Development) of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) addressed more than 160 participants at this year's SCS Cloud & Business Continuity Management Conference. (Photo credit: Singapore Computer Society)

By Jo-Ann Huang

As businesses become increasingly digital, more companies are moving their operations to the cloud not just to ramp up efficiency, but also as part of their business continuity management (BCM) strategy. 

Companies are backing up their ever-growing vault of data on cloud platforms as an insurance against digital threats, such as data theft and ransomware. According to a Trend Micro report, the situation is more urgent in this part of the world, where 27% of ransomware attacks targeted enterprises and individuals based in the Asia Pacific, ahead of Europe and the Middle East (25%) and Latin America (22%).

In Singapore, cloud adoption had risen to about 31% at the end of 2015, according to a survey by AMI Partners. This maintains Singapore’s leading position in ASEAN in both cloud adoption and maturity.

The growing demands on cloud implementations mean a commensurate rise in demand for quality cloud experts, said industry leaders at the Singapore Computer Society's (SCS) Cloud & Business Continuity Management Conference 2017, which was held on 16 March.

Themed "Powering Cloud and Business Continuity in a Smart Nation", the event saw 18 speakers address an audience of around 160 attendees.

“As cloud technology matures and businesses are increasingly aware of the need for BCM plans, there has been a big shift where many businesses can leverage on cloud for their BCM plans,” said Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive (Development) of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the event's Guest-of-Honour.

He noted that many initiatives aimed at building Singapore's digital economy for a Smart Nation are dependent on having a robust cloud-computing infrastructure as well as professionals with the necessary skill sets.

Body of Knowledge

To help the industry build cloud capabilities, SCS launched the Body of Knowledge (BoK), a resource for training and certifying cloud-computing professionals, at the event.

“There is a huge shortage of (cloud) skills locally and globally. As an official society, it is our responsibility to come up with a body of knowledge,” said Dr Anton Ravindran, President of the SCS Cloud Computing Chapter and one of the BoK's authors.

The BoK was developed through a professional development working group. It consisted of experts in the cloud-computing field from both local institutions of higher learning as well as private sector companies. The publication addresses areas such as the drivers of cloud computing, its challenges and the various architectures of cloud technology. These resources can then be utilised to create a curriculum for training and certifying cloud-computing professionals.

"For cloud computing professionals, the BoK will provide a strong foundation as it will form the basis for professional certification," said Mr Khoong.

He added that as more businesses adopt the use of cloud-based services, IMDA will continue to work with the industry in areas such as cloud security and handling of cloud outages to foster a stable and resilient cloud environment.

In the area of talent development, IMDA is working with SkillsFuture Singapore to develop the SkillsFramework for ICT, which will help both employers and individuals in identifying skills required for different ICT jobs.

Getting adoption right

While an increasing number of firms, including small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are embracing the cloud, many are still grappling with concerns such as which standard to adopt and ensuring their data is being stored securely, speakers and panelists at the event said.

Dr Lee Hing Yan, Director of the STAR Programme at Cloud Security Alliance, spoke about the importance of choosing the right standard when it comes to data security during a roundtable discussion.

“You have to understand what specifications will suit your business before choosing the cloud platform that will host your data,” he explained. "For example, in the healthcare industry, where private data is stored, your cloud framework may need to be compliant with the Ministry of Health."

Dr Sandip Gupta, Vice President of Cloud Business at Singtel, also highlighted how customers are shifting towards hybrid cloud platforms – a combination of third-party and private cloud services. As systems scale up and grow more varied, he stressed that cloud providers' network strength and consistency are also becoming increasingly important.

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