By Avinash Gowda, Malaysia Country Manager at Nutanix
Dependability, reliability, and consistency are not friends of change. 2020 was a year that altered the business climate, and the pandemic saw technology teams forced to adjust rapidly as workforces went remote and businesses scrambled to keep their services running, while serving customers in new ways.
The challenge was even more remarkable for IT teams in the public sector. Almost overnight, public sector teams scrambled to adapt to ways of working that they had only partially embraced or explored before the pandemic. Services based on public cloud infrastructure, remote working and other technology approaches that had been avoided were switched on almost immediately.
These new ways of work show no sign of slowing across Malaysia’s public sector. According to the latest Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI), nearly half of public sector agencies across the world had no employees working remotely in 2019. Now, only 4 percent indicate an interest to return to pre-pandemic ways of work, once the situation is under control.
Elevating the role of technology
A meme shared by IT professionals over the past year asked, “Who led the digital transformation at your company?” The three answers to choose from were: the CEO, the CIO, or Covid-19 — which was already circled. In essence, the question highlights a key point: the pandemic has made IT more strategic and business-critical than ever before.
For Malaysia, which announced a cloud-first strategy and goals to strengthen digital capabilities for the public sector as early as 2017, these plans have become a reality. Cloud services featured heavily in the government’s recent MyDIGITAL digital economy blueprint, alongside aims to migrate over 80 percent of public data onto hybrid cloud systems by 2022. According to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, this shift will enable Malaysia’s public sector agencies to ramp up the effectiveness of data collection and management, while lowering information management costs in the long run.
More than two-thirds (70 percent) of public sector agencies across the world now report that IT is viewed more strategically within their organizations, and Malaysia is no exception. In the 2020 PENJANA economic recovery plan, the digitalization of government services was listed as a priority initiative, with aims to not only restore the economy but also put the country on the map as a technologically advanced nation. The Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) has also been tasked with monitoring the exercise, as part of its commitment to pivot the country’s 1996 e-Government project to a Digital Government.
Striking the right balance
Of course, public sector agencies often work within strict parameters and need to find a way to walk the tightrope between security and flexibility. In balancing the needs of their departments, government technology teams need to look at what is most appropriate to stay on premises in a private cloud (backend data), and what needs to live in a public cloud (applications). Unified management services can connect both clouds, and technology teams can easily manage and are in control of the services they provide.
Part of the shift to hybrid cloud means letting go of centralized legacy systems and architecture to enable hybrid cloud environments better. In 2019, 53 percent of global public sector organizations ran, exclusively, traditional, non-cloud-enabled data centers. In 2020, that percentage dropped to 22 percent. And the trend toward hybrid cloud is expected to continue.
Among the initiatives mapped out in the MyDIGITAL blueprint, government ministries and agencies are to provide cashless payment options for the convenience of Malaysians. By 2022, the public sector and agencies will strive to ensure cashless payments are the preferred methods of payment. With its flexibility and protection of data, hybrid cloud could easily be part of that solution.
Setting up for the future
This wave of innovation has swept through the public sector quickly and is an opportunity for agencies to make technology decisions that will have lasting post-pandemic benefits and bring the public sector up to speed with the agility and efficiency of the private sector. Malaysia’s digital economy initiatives and investments in technology stand public sector organizations in good stead to leverage technology-driven innovation in their economic recovery — and cloud will continue to play a key role in enabling this.
Malaysia’s public sector has survived a whirlwind of change, adapting at breakneck speed and positioning itself to deliver stronger service outcomes for citizens. By adopting private sector approaches and agile technology solutions like hybrid cloud and multicloud infrastructure, the sector is poised to spur innovation across its agencies, without compromising data, and charting a way forward for all of us.