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May 9, 2019

Securing government data in the cloud

Azure, cloud, data security

By Ian Houvet, Director at Boxfusion

A clever ad recently stated that in the Digital Age, “data is worth more than the dollar”. This is a maxim for the times we live in, and data is never more valuable than in the public sector. Not only is government data valuable, it is also highly sensitive.

This sensitive data can’t be hosted just anywhere. Traditionally, and across government departments, this has been hosted at on-premise servers, but hardware like this presents its own set of challenges. While security may be tightly managed through access control, on-premise servers are also exposed to unscheduled downtime and redundancy risks.

Cloud computing offers the ideal solution to the challenges of on-premise hardware, but for governments in regions across the globe, data sovereignty and security has been a concern that has prevented migration. Fortunately for South Africa, Microsoft has launched its local Azure datacentres in Cape Town and Johannesburg, which removes the primary obstacle to public sector migration.

Microsoft Azure provides the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings of any cloud provider, which means GITOs and CTOs within departments can rest assured in the knowledge that there are several layers of protection keeping sensitive data safe and on local shores.

Some of the security layers provided by the cloud – and specifically Azure – include role-based access control, which ensures that employees within government only have the access they require in order to do their jobs, single-sign on, multi-factor authentication, encryption and on-premise security at the physical datacentres, amongst others.

With security and data sovereignty taken care of, government can begin to migrate and deploy services using cloud infrastructure. As one of the leading local public software solutions in South Africa, Boxfusion is so convinced of Azure’s security, that we’ve partnered with them as a local ISV to offer our Smartgov modules across the Azure Marketplace. Alongside the security benefits, the Azure cloud allows for simple rollout in a matter of hours, as opposed to days or weeks. It also allows for simple acquisition through the existing agreement between Treasury and Microsoft.

At Boxfusion, we’ve been partnering with the public sector over the past decade to ensure that South Africa can not only participate in the Digital Age but be one of the leaders when it comes to automated government. We believe that in partnering with a cloud solution like Azure, we can migrate our public sector and its services into the future, today.