Hong Kong’s Office of the Government Chief Information Officer has said that while cloud computing could have “profound implications” for how government procures IT, “major issues” stand in the way of adoption.
“We see the cloud computing model as a major trend in the industry,” Hong Kong’s Deputy GCIO Stephen Mak told FutureGov. “Government is aware of this trend and has been weighing up the opportunities and challenges.”
“Depending on the business model, charging mechanism, contractual commitments and interoperability standards, there could be profound implications for how we procure IT products and services.”
However, Mak pointed out that while there have been some interesting service models emerging, there has been “no uniform approach” made by governments in their transition to the cloud.
“Making the transition [to the cloud] also depends on the business strategies of vendors, the availability of standards, business and charging models, and the contractual terms and conditions that are readily available,” Mak said. “Security, privacy, integration and compatibility with existing offerings are also important issues.”
“There does not seem to be one or more technological breakthrough that underlines the cloud model to make it really compelling,” he added.
OGCIO is currently testing the feasibility of cloud computing in government. This broadly falls under the Digital 21 Strategy, a government directive to promote the local ICT industry and the wider adoption of advanced ICT. In the past three years, US$2 million has gone into funding cloud projects by the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF).
OGCIO centrally organises ICT procurement contracts for use by all agencies, and will play an advisory role for cloud adoption by other departments. Among the assessment criteria are the cost of setting up the IT infrastructure, the units of procurement and pricing models, the nature of service-level agreements, interoperability among cloud and non-cloud services, and data security and privacy.
The United States, the United Kingdom, China and Singapore are being used as benchmarks for Hong Kong’s own journey into the cloud. The government is also involved in information exchange programmes on cloud computing with agencies on the Mainland, including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Pan-Pearl River Delta Directors of Information Industry.
Hong Kong’s cloud computing journey will be discussed at the FutureGov-organised Government Cloud Hong Kong event on November 10th 2010.