STACK-X Cloud Conference 2021
Welcome Address by SMS Janil Puthucheary at STACK-X Cloud Conference
17 Nov 2021
Good morning. It’s great to join all of you for today’s STACK-X Cloud Conference. STACK-X has been a crucial platform for bringing together the public sector, industry professionals, and the developer community to focus on key topics in technology.
Technology continues to dramatically alter the landscape in which we live, work, and interact. Singaporeans have become used to a previously unimaginable level of accessibility, efficiency, and customisability in their transactions with businesses. Understandably, they expect the same of government services. We have to rise to the challenge, and to do so, our infrastructure and the people who make it work, are key.
Transforming our ICT infrastructure
We must transform our infocomm technology infrastructure. This ICT infrastructure serves as the foundation of our digital services. There has been a paradigm shift in how organisations view these digital services, from a backroom support function to a front-end mission-critical capability.
- In the banking sector for example, digital services and solutions powered by ICT infrastructure now drive market share and profit margins by enabling institutions to acquire customers, develop new products, and enable e-finance more effectively.
This shift, this change in operational considerations, means that you as CIOs, tech leads, project managers, and developers are in a position to steer your organisations’ future capabilities and competitive advantages.
It also means that we must modernise our ICT infrastructure to ensure that it is cutting-edge, reliable and fit for purpose. Infrastructure can then better enable digital solutions that are responsive to changing policy, as well as dynamic operational and situational requirements that we find ourselves in.
- But modernisation cannot be a one-off exercise. We need adaptive organisational processes where systems are iterated and maintained without incurring significant technical debt or slipping into obsolescence.
Transforming our infrastructure is necessary, beyond cost minimisation and office productivity gains, to driving business models and maximising organisational outcomes.
Cloud as a key enabler of transformation
Cloud is a key enabler for us to achieve this transformation. It is a critical component of modern ICT infrastructure.
Take for example our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital tools had to be rolled out at a tempo, and with a reliability that was unprecedented. MaskGoWhere, that was developed to help with distribution of masks, was built almost overnight. TraceTogether, that was developed for contact tracing and proximity tracking, was developed in just weeks. More importantly, these products and services had to be patched, adapted, upgraded continuously, while serving an important public health mission.
- These were accomplished through the efforts of our talented engineers and developers. Their hard work and technical skills certainly played an important role in achieving these outcomes. But they will tell you that the speed at which all this was achieved would have been impossible without the quick deployability that the cloud offers.
The cloud offers other advantages for us in government. In particular, the ability to scale our services in a sustainable and cost-efficient manner in response to changing needs. Another is capability to easily reuse common services to address different use cases.
Many of you will know that we have implemented the Government on Commercial Cloud platform, or GCC, to help us utilise the benefits of cloud. GCC has been instrumental in our cloud migration efforts, by providing agencies with a consistent means of adopting and developing cloud applications.
Last year, we announced in our Digital Government Blueprint a target of migrating 70% of eligible government systems to the cloud by 2023. I am pleased to announce that we are well on our way to hitting that target, with 44% of eligible systems already migrated. And we will continue to migrate more.
Looking ahead, our team has been hard at work making the experience with GCC easier and more streamlined for our developers and partners. So, over the course of today’s sessions you will hear more about the upcoming GCC platform enhancements that we have planned.
Good progress, but we need to further build cloud capabilities
We have made good progress in cloud adoption, but this would not have been possible without the right people. When we first started the Digital Government Blueprint, the cloud was new to many of us, but we overcame this through upskilling and investing in the right talent.
We mustn’t stop here. We must continue to ensure that the people at the heart of growing our digital capabilities can harness the best that the technology has to offer.
Not just the professionals who are migrating and operating systems, but also the engineers and developers who will be utilising and building for the cloud.
Apart from CSP-accredited courses and certification, GovTech has also provided another avenue for those interested in levelling up their skills via the Digital Academy, which curates a wide variety of courses, with topics ranging from Containers for Deploying and Scaling Apps, to Automating Infrastructure Provisioning and Configuration.
Perhaps more important than training is the need to put our skills into practice. Our developers and engineers work on challenging cloud projects, honing their skills through on-the-job and experiential learning.
We need an open mind to new technologies and practices; we cannot be hermetically sealed in with our old ways.
However, this is easier said than done. On a technical level, there are legacy systems and hardware that we still need to support.
On a human level, there is a natural inertia against shifting away from systems and practices we have become accustomed to.
And for governments in particular, the difficult questions around security, must be dealt with in a robust and accountable manner.
Even with these challenges we must adjust, and adapt. Otherwise, we risk becoming irrelevant, or antiquated.
To do so, we will need deep collaboration between the public and private sectors, to exchange ideas and best practices.
- Our success in cloud development and migration would not have been possible without the close partnership between our agencies, developers, industry partners, and cloud service providers. Thank you for all your entrepreneurial effort and support.
Looking ahead, there are more opportunities for public-private partnerships. By moving to the cloud securely, we are democratising cloud innovation and providing equal access to industry partners of very different scales to collaborate with the Government. This is what today’s STACK-X Conference is all about: open sharing between the private sector and the Government, and fostering a culture of collaboration.
Through today’s sessions, you will learn more about the latest government efforts in our push for cloud, the new tools and capabilities made available to you, and tactics to prepare you for cloud migration.
Working together, we can uplift industry and government capabilities through practice and implementation, delivering quality digital products for Singaporeans.
Thank you and I wish you all a great conference ahead.
Dr Janil Puthucheary
Senior Minister of State,
Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Health
Minister-in-charge of GovTech Singapore