This blog post was authored by David Chandra, Director for Public Sector Cloud Services, Asia
But in the 21st century it is unrealistic for government agencies to store documents in physical locations. The potential of citizen datasets, from health records to criminal background checks, is too great to overlook.
So government agencies turn to what seems like the digital equivalent – creating private datacenters. The logic seems clear – data is hidden away in one place, and it is difficult to hack into.
But datacenter managers are facing three big challenges in the public sector. The first is manageability, and ensuring that there is full oversight of the datacenter. This is difficult in an environment where there is a vast amount of information to filter through, and a great responsibility on the shoulders of those who oversee public sector data. Second is the issue of compliance. Public data must be stored according to a litany of rules, from sovereignty issues to privacy and correct usage. Datacenters must meet the latest storage standards, and fulfil internal rules on costs, energy consumption (especially power usage effectiveness or PUE) and other environmental standards.
Third is the issue of demand management. We have seen across Asia a surge of demand during tax season, which in Australia visibly jeopardized service delivery on a number of occasions. While not all datacenter managers face this issue, it is an increasing problem as government datasets proliferate.
Agencies can combat these problems by using the power of the cloud. They can combine their in-house systems with our expertise, benefiting from shared learnings, increased security, and technology that scans their systems to patch vulnerabilities. Here are three reasons why the cloud makes government datacenters more secure.
1. Harness the power of machine learning
When agencies use the cloud, they benefit from the cutting-edge technology used to secure it. And this applies across all of their systems.
Agencies that use Azure can harness machine learning, which combs through the noise and alerts that datacenters constantly issue – picking out the real threats. This special feature is unique to the cloud, because it is constantly updated and uses data from across the world.It is equivalent to scanning CCTV feeds looking for threats. No-one person can filter through all the feeds, but Azure can do the digital equivalent, highlighting only the necessary alerts for busy CIOs. Even agencies that only use their own datacenters can still benefit from the latest Microsoft technologies.
2. Create an additional barrier
If you want to increase security, you hide its location. Cloud computing can do this, even when you are using an on-premise datacenter. We have launched the Cloud Shield, which provides an additional layer of protection to your datacenter. It creates a barrier between your datacenter’s access to the internet, essentially providing a PO box service that shields your real address from hackers who may be watching you.
This is a unique concept for Azure cloud, and an important addition to the security of your data. A hybrid approach allows you to retain your datacenter, and build an additional security layer on top of it.
3. Close up all access points
The weakest link is often through your employee’s devices. But using Microsoft expertise, you can close up these gaps – scanning all connected devices and access points for potential vulnerabilities.
Microsoft’s expertise in the software industry is unparalleled, and we have used that on Azure, linking it up with your agency’s workstations. The security package on your datacenter can work in the background to scan your entire network, ensuring that nobody gets in through the back door.
Traditional cloud platforms do not provide this service, but Microsoft can because of our experience in this area. The cloud isn’t just about storing data. Fundamental to Azure is the belief that it must secure your data. And that means securing your devices as well.
Microsoft can help datacenter managers tackle all of their challenges. Our systems, of course, can cope with any surge in demand, given the size of our global operations. We operate according to all of the latest regulations, and can invest substantially as regulations change. It is costly to re-engineer in-house datacenters to meet environmental standards, but our costs bear this in mind and take away the burden.
And, perhaps most importantly, we provide an extra piece of mind. An additional security layer can keep hackers at bay. And machine learning on our alerts will ensure that you really know what’s happening on your systems.