Financial Crisis and Cloud Computing – Opening session & Global overview

Notes from the World Bank workshop on “Financial Crisis and Cloud Computing” in Washington.

Opening Session

Welcome: Philippe Dongier, Sector Manager, Global ICT Department, World Bank

World Bank is very much learning about cloud computing – it’s one of the three big topics in the initiative for government transformation

Security is a big issue here, Jerry has a lot of experience and will tell us more

Opening Remarks: Jerry Horton, Chief Information Officer, USAID

cloud computing is very much about infrastructure – CIO view

users look at it as data center and virtualisation of information

in this context for governments there are risks, but there are a lot of opportunities in cloud computing

USAID has a long tradition in IT projects around the world


Global Overview and Lessons from Implementers

Drue Reeves, Research Director for Cloud Computing, Burton Group

cloud computing will change the way we do business, cost models, lots of issues, it’s overhyped

trust and security are clear issues

cloud computing is coming – and now is the time to prepare

IT is finally catching up with the internet

business and IT are becoming one

companies cannot afford anymore to build such big infrastructure

  • traditional IT is too expensive
  • traditional IT is not flexible enough – installation, maintenance, …
  • traditional IT is too complex

typically: companies have their own data centres

future: most critical data, most critical services are kept internal

cloud computing – on demand, scalable, elastic service

cloud appears infinite in scale to the consumer

cost is connected to usage, not to infrastructure

companies will use the cloud in different ways – on software as well as on hardware level

cloud computing

  • simplifies and optimizes IT
  • on demand model
  • vendors and trainers in cloud computing are highly professional

on the other hand

  • vendor lock in
  • the service is somewhere in the cloud
  • the vendors don’t tell what the infrastructure look like
  • if something is wrong it’s hard to find out what

the more similar your own infrastructure and the cloud are, the easier to move it

partnering between developing countries building their data centre

not all applications are ready to move to the cloud

what about quality of service? some vendors don’t provide that

your data may move to a different country

Bob Bennett, CEO of Family Service Agency of San Francisco

NGO in San Francisco with multiple funding sources

three requirements for NGOs

  • make profit
  • meet your funders requirements
  • manage your client service

big challenge in 2004

  • no money
  • no infrastructure
  • few computers
  • not much knowledge about IT

solution: automating the treatment records -> Salesforce

  • rapid development environment
  • robust & scalable
  • tailored for all the services
  • possibility to interact with other organizations

we own our own customization for the critical data – for the core application there are specialists, anything can be 100% customized

everybody has a unique set of dashbords

overall the productivity increased by around 50%

the attitude to not work very much was changed, because productivity became more transparent

the system allows to track how the services are performing and to react immediately


Commentary by Randeep Sudan, Leader of e-Government Practice, Global ICT Department, World Bank (TBC)

cloud computing in the context of developing countries

most important aspect – infrastructure for cloud computing, broadband

a lot of developing countries don’t have that in place

how are developing countries managing their data

US is very open with their data –

it would be a great thing to put this data in the cloud and make it machine readable – even in developing country

data centres are a good idea for countries to start with cloud computing

one approach is also to leverage private-public partnerships

often government worry about privacy

new approaches – citizen data is controlled by the citizens, they decide who can access what

maybe citizens find it easier to put the data in the cloud

skills that are required in IT are different to skills required for the cloud – governments should start looking into that

also universities in developing countries should provide hands on experience with cloud computing


Commentary by John Wille, Lead PSD Specialist, Investment Climate Advisory Services World Bank Group

mostly involved in implementing G2B services

cloud computing has great potentials to leapfrog traditional models of data storage and maintenance

particular in least developed countries there are many obstacles for cloud computing, some countries even now put services online for the first time

but the infrastructure development right now is enabling some countries to take advantage of these new services

the World Bank is required to take a more holistic attitude in terms of deploying services

there are a number of possibilities emerging for the Bank – e.g. connect isolated initiatives

what do we need to make cloud computing reality?

  • products & applications
  • portability to allow customers to move between vendors
  • model for a national setting
  • private-public partnerships

we need to understand how this is going to change the way we do business


Q & A


  • interested in projects connected with use – are there projects which use the cloud?
  • maybe the youth could be more interested as they are faster in adapting new technologies
  • is bad internet connection a serious obstacle for cloud computing?


  • will World Bank continue working with Belarus
  • are there special methodologies information security for cloud computing so there is no risk for critical information – and how to tell if information is really critical or not
  • what methods can be offered in the cloud to increase efficiency in government processes, how can you ensure that the capacities are not more as we need – increased costs
  • what cloud computing services can be proposed for the scientific area?


  • are there standards for cloud computing?
  • are there any examples of how the state can create the infrastructure for cloud computing?

Sri Lanka:

  • has there been an evaluation concerning the legal infrastructure?
  • how about portability and interoperability between vendors?
  • what about security issues when data moves between different countries?


  • how was it possible to persuade the Liberia government to bundle their forces?


  • How can Youth-oriented projects connected to cloud leverage mobile technology?


  • Youth – has to be fetched where they already are – Facebook, …,  also let them use it at the workplace, encourage them to try it out
  • University – services that are available are used
  • Belarus – will definitely be supported further
  • Information security – there’s not zero risk, but security may be better than in traditional infrastructure because data is aĺways in motion; it’s possible for people to crazy about imagined threats – so it’s a good idea to start with applications with lower security risk and see how it goes;
  • Standardization – differs at each level, where we’re missing standards is at the Software as a Service level; currently there are no standards for data security
  • Examples of solutions in developing countries – mostly in the private sector; in the next session there will be a talk on that concerning microfinance
  • Examples of states interventions to provide infrastructure – new term: government as a service, government in Korea has invested in huge data centres, can be used not only at national level; the US helped funding the Dow Jones – cloud computing should work the same way;
  • Legal dimension – private sector & financial institutions are controlled by national rules;
  • Vendor locking – almost impossible to avoid vendor lock in; controlling the data (geographically) depends on the service level agreement & negotiations with the vendor;
  • How critical is the internet connectivity – mobile communication is used as a way around, a lot of initiatives to provide connectivity will be critial to make the technology available; good software design can overcome limited broadband
  • Bottleneck between government, cloud, provider –
  • What kind of capacity does one need – you gain a level of efficiency by moving to the cloud; just going into the cloud

Questions and comments from the audience

Data centres are very hard to build – promise of cloud computing is that you don’t need a data centre;

of course there are security concern, but it’s just too hard and expensive to build an own data centre

there is no upfront investment in cloud computing

Should the worldbank provide a cloud to developing countries or create an environment where private sector would do that?

  • This service should lie in the domain of the countries, not the bank

How does the San Francisco NGO experience translate to developing countries?

  • The only big difference was the connectivity issue, otherwise the experience is highly relevant

Are there SLA templates online which help governments?

  • It’s kind of a Wild West now, still it’s about everybody to organize their security

private clouds is not an aim and it’s not always necessary to keep control of your own data – it’s better to provide public clouds and have good regulations;

the bigger your scale, the more going into the cloud makes sense

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Financial Crisis and Cloud Computing – Opening session & Global overview
was published on 16.06.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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