,Singapore

Seamless Data Migration to the Singapore Government Commercial Cloud with a Data Fabric Platform

By JJ Tan

Agencies need a robust, secure platform that enables efficient migration, ensures high data quality, and guarantees governed access.

Many governmental agencies are moving their IT systems onto the Government Commercial Cloud (GCC) as part of the Singapore government's strategic plan to leverage the capabilities of commercial cloud computing platforms to governmental systems. With the GCC, governmental agencies can tap on commercial clouds to incorporate advanced functionalities into their digital services without needing to set up their own data centres. According to GovTech, “to date, the government has close to 600 systems on cloud and is on track to have 70% of eligible systems on the cloud by FY2023.” A positive improvement for citizens and businesses, and the enhancement of new public services.

To take full advantage of the GCC Services, agencies need a robust and secure data management platform that enables efficient migration to the GCC, ensures high data quality, and guarantees governed data access for users. Thus, adopting the right data strategy and sustainable platform becomes even more critical in their journey to migrate to the GCC. 

Addressing the challenges of migrating data to the cloud
Data management tools are finally catching up with expectations, offering data users the ability to perform many difficult and complex interactions with zero coding. However, traditional data management is largely focused on moving data from point to point, and organisations can inadvertently be creating digital landfills of ungoverned data if left unchecked.

Migrating data to the cloud encompasses a variety of fundamentals that is no different from any migration project, such as identification of data sources and systems, understanding of the data itself (e.g., missing fields etc.) through profiling, data mapping sources and targets, transformation and translation of data through business logic, trial migration and testing post actual migration. This may seem simplistic, but the skillset of a commercial cloud platform and strict security architectures may also pose other challenges in a migration timeline. While it is all possible to migrate applications and data onto the GCC, there are a few golden rules to keep in mind when migrating: 

  1. Data migration is not merely a technical activity but is also equally a business one
  2. Do not neglect data health and maintain high trust factors with business stakeholders
  3. Support governed data usage with self-service to drive adoption by user communities

Security and privacy are paramount. To address privacy and security challenges, government agencies should consider the encryption and masking of confidential information to ensure that data of different classifications are given the most appropriate treatment before and after migration. In addition, user access to confidential information must be monitored and subjected to regular audit. As part of an overall migration strategy, agencies must also decide if they want to migrate wholesale into the new system or perform the migration in stages. 

A parallel run can also be implemented between three to six months post-migration depending on the scale. To focus on data quality, agencies should run tests and match the data to ensure high data integrity before fully transitioning to the cloud platform and declare it “live”. 

Transforming Data into Quality Assets
Gartner points to the growing business value of data sharing and predicts that through 2023, organisations that can establish trust in their data will be able to participate in 50% more ecosystems. With data shared across organisations, governmental agencies can contribute to a more robust governmental ecosystem that will ultimately benefit its citizens. 

A unified approach to data, consistent with organisational needs and governance practices, requires fully transparent data management processes as well as documented and communal data quality standards. This means establishing shared data quality rules across the organisation, automated checks in data systems, and policies that set clear expectations for how people interact with and maintain governmental data is essential to help promote a data health mindset that will drive cultural change.

Most government agencies may use two to three clouds with variations, and the GCC has tapped multiple cloud providers, including AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. In this environment, post-migration maintenance must be conducted by experienced employees with demonstrated familiarity and competence with cloud technology. In addition, consultants for government agencies must have an intimate understanding of the platform to be able to store data and use applications. With a unified data fabric solution, IT teams and consultants do not have to worry about learning different tools, as it fully supports multi-cloud technology and partners with every cloud provider, making data integration agnostic and future-proofing the process for governmental agencies. 

Governed Data Provisioning on the GCC
Data governance is a cornerstone in any data-related project. Safeguards and policies to control data availability, integrity, intended usage, and security across the organisation should be implemented to ensure a strong data management foundation for all governance and compliance initiatives. This includes data lineages and impact analysis to understand how data moves in its pipeline to its destination.

Leveraging on the advancement of technology, agencies should improve data health by ingesting and transforming data with reusable logic and ML-based automation processes. such as data deduplication and survivorship as well as the use of matching algorithms. 

Moreover, agencies can operationalise the discovery and protection of private data across a unified data management ecosystem, simplifying the hard work behind data privacy. Apart from taking critical steps to protecting confidential information, agencies should promote data literacy by democratising data and fostering team-based data quality and governance processes with self-service apps. It is also vital to catalogue data and manage data assets in the GCC. When data is pooled into a data lake and is left unmanaged, it can easily become unusable with bad quality data.

Data, especially when used for regulatory reporting, should be concerned with its data lineages since pinpointing the flow of data at any given time is like finding a needle in a haystack. Organisations must continue to foster a data health culture that cultivates data citizens to curate good data as well as to perform collaborative and innovative work. By creating an organisational culture that supports data health, governmental agencies encourage employees to prioritise data health best practices, thus ensuring governed, trustworthy and compliant data. 

The GCC was established on the hope that developer teams can build and deliver digital applications that create value for stakeholders. By building applications on the GCC, agencies gain a key advantage to access a global ecosystem of solutions and services, and increase their interconnectivity with other sectors. There is no better time than now - agencies should accelerate their move to the GCC today. 

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