UNICC Presents at the IGF on Cloud Computing

7 February, 2018

Photo: UN/Ferre

JIU Targets UNICC as a Cloud Computing Expert

Top risks and challenges for the UN family

The Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations system intends to undertake a review entitled “Managing cloud computing” in 2018.

The UN’s Joint Inspection Unit, the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations system-wide, invited UNICC to to provide clarity and perspective on cloud computing in the UN at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva in December (18th-21nd) 2017.

Prado Nieto put together a compelling case for UNICC’s central role in the UN’s march towards public cloud computing. Key to a UNICC business proposition is that, as cited by RightScale in their 2017 State of Cloud Report, managing the costs in the public cloud is a top risk, with a common waste of 30 to 45 % in cloud services consumption. Centralized cost management, professional assessments, advisory support and managed services can hugely optimise hidden, unmanaged, unforeseen and fluctuating cloud computing management costs.

The programme of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), ‘Shape Your Digital Future’, included four host country and ceremonial sessions; 8 main/special sessions; 99 workshops; 45 open forums; many other sessions for a total of 260 sessions in the overall programme. 55 booths were featured in the IGF Village.

Topics ranged from digital identity cyber security, internet shutdowns in Gambia, collaborative leadership exchange, youth for rights, women and LGBT in the IGF, encryption and data flows, Latin America in the digital economy, Mexico’s best practices, data governance and policy, block chain technologies, AI, data for sustainable development, a digital Geneva Convention, bridging digital divides, Internet of Things, CyberBRICs, benchmarking IT companies on digital rights, fake news, Lebanese telcom transformation, data and climate, and so much more.

The meeting was attended by 2019 onsite participants from 142 countries, representing all stakeholder groups and regions. 32 remote hubs were organised around the world, with 1661 stakeholders participating online. The largest number of online participants came from the following countries: United States, Switzerland, Nigeria, China, India, Brazil, France, United Kingdom and Mexico.

UNICC and UN Cloud Computing

Prado Nieto, OIC Chief Customer Relationship Management, represented UNICC together with Jovan Kurbalija, Director of DiploFoundation and Head of the Geneva Internet Platform (moderator), Petru Dumitriu, Inspector, United Nations Joint Inspection Unit and Christina Kokkinaki, Legal Officer, International Organization for Migration.

Prado began by introducing UNICC. She reminded attendees that UNICC was created nearly 50 years ago by the General Assembly with the goals of acting as the private cloud of the United Nations. She added that this smart, consolidated, centralized cloud computing management will be key for the UN system, UNICC’s mandate to act as a UN private cloud, based on the mandate and experience to act as an IT service provider for the whole UN system for nearly 50 years. She also highlighted that all UNICC data centres are within the UN jurisdiction and this will be key for some data that the UN system cannot move to the public cloud.

She acknowledged that some of the main risks that the UN system has to move data to the cloud are related to the risk that cloud providers could misuse information (data protection threats) and the risk that state actors are using legal means to access public cloud services. Prado recognized some of the main advantages of cloud computing:

  • Quicker provision of services
  • Easier to create resiliency in the services consumed
  • Standardisation with updated operating systems
  • High innovation with experts versed with the latest technology
  • Cost effectiveness, which is key due to UN’s financial hardship.

She highlighted that the UN system is continuously requested to provide high quality services and innovative solutions under continued budget pressures. Therefore, the UN system will need to explore public cloud services to achieve maximum cost effectiveness. But there is a danger in leaping to the assumption that public cloud computing is light, cheap, safe and easy.

A recent survey from RightScale, the 2017 State of the Cloud Report, identifies managing costs in the public cloud as a top challenge, including a common waste of 30 to 45 % in public cloud services consumption.

This finding is key for the UN system, as poor management of public cloud costs could disqualify some of the original business cases that motivated the UN system to move there in the first place.

Prado highlighted other important findings of the RightScale 2017 State of Cloud Report. One is that the preferred enterprise strategy is the hybrid cloud, and this is even stronger within the UN system where there are additional risks. Keep in mind that the UN system has already a private cloud – at UNICC – that can be leveraged to integrate with the public cloud in order to maximize the benefits of both and in order to create a truly UN hybrid cloud.

Her last point was that the UN system should cooperate with a common cloud deployment – and cost management strategy – to achieve a maximization of savings that an integrated strategy can bring. This entails a hybrid solution (a UN private cloud for sensitive data and well-managed public cloud solutions) with proper governance and cost management of cloud services solutions.

About the IGF

The IGF is a global multi-stakeholder forum that promotes discussions and dialogue about public policy issues related to the Internet. It was convened in 2006 by the United Nations Secretary-General. The IGF has consolidated its position as a platform for bringing together members of various stakeholder groups as equals. While there is no negotiated outcome, the IGF informs and inspires those with policy-making powers in both the public and private sectors. Delegates hold discussions, exchange information and share good practices with each other at the annual meeting.

The IGF facilitates a common understanding as to how Internet opportunities can be maximized and addresses risks and challenges that arise. It is a forum which gives developing countries the same opportunity as wealthier nations to engage in the debate on Internet governance and facilitates their participation in existing institutions and arrangements. Ultimately, the involvement of all stakeholders, from developed as well as developing countries, is necessary for the future development of the Internet.