Cloud computing move ‘helped save millions’

OPERATIONAL costs for the government’s database infrastructure and systems have dropped by between 60 and 80 per cent since the move to cloud computing … saving millions of dinars.

Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server.

Information and eGovernment Authority (eGA) chief executive Mohammed Al Qaed revealed that of the 72 ministries, government bodies, state-owned companies, banks and universities that have started the move to the cloud - 32 have completed the process.

He said during a media brief organised yesterday by the National Communications Centre (NCC) at eGA headquarters in Muharraq that four new government bodies have been established directly on the cloud.

“The cloud has helped us reduce the time to prepare the information database by 60pc for each establishment and this, in return, has helped make a saving of around BD2 million to BD3 million-a-year in equipment, connections and maintenance,” said Mr Al Qaed.

“Despite being in advanced stages, technology evolves and we have to continue keeping pace with developments.

“I believe that currently Bahrain’s government leads the world in this approach. We seek comparative statistics but, even without them, I’m confident we are set to be number one.”

A major benefit of cloud computing is scalability. Unlike buying additional hardware for on-premises data centres, cloud services can rapidly scale up as needed. Conversely, as the need for a certain resource decreases, organisations can easily scale back. This scale up/down model ensures government entities have the resources they need, when they need them.

Cloud infrastructure can also offer advanced security options, allowing organisations to reap the benefits of cloud computing with peace of mind.

“We are not worried about cybersecurity breaches considering that systems placed by Amazon and Microsoft, which we have cloud space in, is highly ciphered,” added Mr Al Qaed.

“The threat of breaches is much more inside our environment and it is illogical to spend between BD30m to BD40m annually to protect servers when a cheaper secure platform is available. That money could be better spent on futuristic infrastructure.”

Mr Al Qaed said for the past three years, since partnering with Amazon on cloud, Bahrain’s database spending had dropped by more than 50pc.

“Operational costs have dropped between 60pc to 80pc. There is more work to reduce spending further.

“In the case of a regular database, we have to buy the highest capacity and latest hi-tech systems and, within three years, we are forced to replace them with the latest updated versions.

“More than 750 Bahrainis have been trained on the cloud and more are on the way to deal with further expansion.

“Besides regular government operations we have Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company and all that is under its umbrella, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) alongside banks, the Shura Council and BNet, amongst others on board with us.”

Deputy chief executive for operations and governance Dr Khalid Al Mutawah showcased examples of successful transfers to the cloud.

“We shifted the Education Ministry within a week and the saving has been $258,000 in three years, which is 89pc,” he said.

“The Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry archives were also moved to the cloud and this meant less dependence on renting buildings, besides freeing up servers, and the saving was 56pc in three years, which is $218,000.

“The cloud has also helped us launch applications like BeAware, Benayat, Electricity and Water Authority customer service amongst others.

“This shows how the move has helped us. We’re currently working on what to do next.”




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