The Philippines updates Cloud First Policy in transition to ‘new normal’ amidst COVID-19 pandemic

The Philippines has amended its Cloud First Policy to transition to a “new normal” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has recognised the vital role of ICT by providing clearer instructions on policy coverage, data classification and data security to meet global standards.

“We are paving the way to an ICT policy environment that is more responsive to current needs, further filling gaps in our country’s digitalisation efforts,” said DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II.

The Cloud First Policy looks to promote cloud computing as the preferred technology for the Philippine Government’s administration and delivery of services to efficiently serve the public.

Mr Honasan said: “The shift to a truly digital government is much more pressing today.”

This shift is expected to empower greater flexibility, security, innovation and cost-efficiency.

“The DICT is committed to cover all aspects of this, primarily policies that would enable government digital transformation to ensure that we maximize ICT during this transition to the new normal,” said Mr Honasan.

Clarifying ‘Cloud First’

The amendments made to the Cloud First Policy clarify which institutions in the Philippines will be covered, and which are only encouraged to adopt cloud technology.

The policy will cover all departments, bureaus, offices and agencies of the Executive Branch as well as state universities and colleges. The Congress, Judiciary, Independent Constitutional Commissions and Ombudsman will only be encouraged to adopt the cloud services.

The amendments in the Cloud First Policy also clarify the Government’s position on data sovereignty, which was ‘confused with the concept of data residency’ in the previous version.

In the new version, the application of Philippine laws over foreign counterparts will be asserted over the data owned or processed by the Government or any entity that has links to the Philippines. 

This means that most data passing through the Philippines will be subject to the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which ‘protects the human right to privacy of communication while ensuring free flow of information to promote innovation and growth’ and the inherent obligation of the state to ensure that data is secured and protected.

Additional provisions on ICT capacity building and development of essential skills to meet international and local standards in the Philippines are also included in the Cloud First Policy.

The Philippines fell from 9th in 2018 to 11th in the 2020 Cloud Readiness Index by the Asia Cloud Computing Association. But there may be renewed optimism for a strong cloud future in the Philippines with these amendments, along with the Philippine Digital Transformation Strategy and more connectivity coming from DITO’s new data center.

Adapting to the ‘new normal’ in the Philippines

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, various governmental departments in the Philippines have adopted cloud technology to adapt their services.

The Department of Education recently partnered with Microsoft to provide a virtual ‘graduation-in-a-box’ to students in schools nationwide.

“The future of the Philippines lies in the hands of the brilliant young minds sitting in its classrooms today and we are privileged to empower not just their learning experience, but also their future,” said Andres Ortola, Microsoft Philippines Country General Manager.

The Supreme Court in the Philippines has also worked with Microsoft to continue legal proceedings through cloud-based videoconferencing hearings for the first time.

Mr Ortola said: “I am so proud to be a part of this historic moment in the Philippines.”

Enabling migration to the cloud

In the original Cloud First Policy in 2017, the Philippines encouraged migration to the cloud to enable greater automation and agility. The DICT recommended a three-step process to achieve migration.

First, take stock by defining objectives, determine data classifications and map security considerations. 

Second, plan migration by defining responsibilities, identifying skill gaps and choosing a suitable cloud environment. 

And lastly, migrate and manage through testing workloads, tracking performance and training staff through service level agreements with cloud vendors.

If you would like to find out how you can successfully migrate to the cloud, register now for our free ‘Data Center Selection & Migration in Asia Pacific’ digital event on Thursday 23 July.

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Image: jopetsy, Flickr