To conceptualize and deliver next-generation e-government services, the Hong Kong Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) devised a pan-government cloud strategy in 2010. The plan calls for the creation of three cloud environments: an in-house private cloud, an outsourced private cloud and public cloud services.
In December 2011, OGCIO launched the first government private cloud platform, to be owned and operated by OGCIO to host applications that carry sensitive data, such as data from the e-gov information services. The in-house private cloud environment was overhauled from the OGCIO’s existing datacenter in Wanchai: the Central Computer Center (pictured). Besides Wanchai, OGCIO also operates two other datacenters in Tsuen Wan and Sai Kung.
In March 2011, the OGCIO’s Central Computer Center (pictured) also became the first Hong Kong government agency to obtain the international standard on IT service management. “ISO20000 helps to standardize the operations management within the CCC,” said Anthony Shin-hang Chiu (pictured), senior systems manager, Hong Kong OGCIO. “In Hong Kong, there are only about 15 enterprises that have obtained ISO20000. After the OGCIO, the Housing Department was the next government department to obtain ISO20000.”
At the OGCIO, Chiu was responsible for leading the setup of the government’s in-house private cloud with his five-member team, plus some 90 colleagues who work in shifts in the OGCIO’s datacenters. With CCC’s attainment of ISO20000 and the green measures adopted at the OGCIO’s datacenters, Chiu became one of two recipients of the Hong Kong Computer Society’s “Outstanding ICT Achiever Awards 2012: Project Management Category.”
Besides conforming to international information management standards, the OGCIO also runs its in-house private cloud along guidelines that stipulates clear performance indicators. Examples of those performance indicators, according to Chiu, include a transaction response time of three seconds for government systems, and a provision time for CCC computer resources like server, storage and networks within five days (the timeframe was 10 weeks previously).
Chiu said: “By implementing server virtualization, the cost of running servers for five years has been reduced by 20-30%. The utilization rate of our remaining server capacities, including air-conditioning, power and space, has reached 70-80% — a very good utilization rate indeed. Overall speaking, the power effectiveness of CCC has been improved by 30%.”
“Since the OGCIO implemented the in-house private cloud, the customer satisfaction rating has been up by 20%. There has been no incidence caused by any change, capacity or configuration management. We have reduced unsuccessful or cancelled change by 90%, and there has been no recurrence of incidence,” he added.
Refreshing 20-year legacy
Speaking of challenges, Chiu mentioned that the OGCIO’s CCC is almost 20 years old and it was challenging to implement cloud computing in the legacy-loaded datacenter. “Many virtualized datacenters involve the use of high power density servers which generate a lot of heat,” he said. “This creates challenges in the cooling and airflow management of CCC.”
“As we know, cloud computing employs an opex model, but it is in fact easier for the government departments to seek approval for capex funding than opex,” Chiu added. “During the funding process of the in-house private cloud, we had to adjust the cost model of cloud computing to fit with the government’s financing model. With the help of some finance professionals, we created some cloud cost models and packages for LegCo’s consideration by splitting the costs between capex and opex.”
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