Moving Maldives to Google Cloud; a country-first through Cloud Comrade

Specialist Singapore partner sizes up cloud potential at government agency

Cloud Comrade has migrated the Maldives Pension Administration Office (MPAO) to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in a country-first initiative for the island-nation.

The department oversees the management of retirement pension schemes for around 130,000 employees in the Republic of Maldives, in addition to roughly 1650 employers.

Prior to engaging with Singapore-based Cloud Comrade - acquired by ST Telemedia in January - the agency deployed a virtualisation product installed across four hosts, alongside running 18 servers, a storage area network and re-walls to store and secure data.

But according to Ahmed Shafeez - director of operations and IT at MPAO - running an in-house data centre “wasn’t easy”, with the government agency lacking the internal expertise and resources to maintain hardware infrastructure. This was in addition to meeting the security requirements of auditors concerned about the storing of highly sensitive user data.

“One of our primary reasons for shifting to Google Cloud Platform was we didn’t want an in-house data centre,” said Shafeez. “With Google, we simplified from a complex infrastructure with re-walls, storage, virtualisation and servers, which were all difficult for us to manage.”

To initiate such change, Shafeez travelled to India to engage with government agency partners and subsequently learned how to manage infrastructure on GCP, before engaging with Cloud Comrade, a specialist consulting and services partner.

During a five-month period, Shafeez and Cloud Comrade presented to the agency’s board of directors to secure the green light required to allow the MPAO to become the first institution in the Maldives to move to the cloud.

Cloud Comrade then joined forces with the agency to develop a specific architecture and replicate virtualised servers in the cloud. The move, according to Shafeez, was designed to ensure the agency’s main pension management application was “well integrated”.

To resolve island connectivity concerns, the specialist partner advised the agency to deploy two different ISPs, with all internal emails already migrated to G Suite, meaning the internal file server was replaced with Google Drive.

Shafeez said the entire project was completed on schedule, taking less than two months.

Today, MPAO stores and manages data on GCP, keeping track of contribution collections and payouts through an application called Koshaaru, with the system backed up in several GCP regions to help ensure the continuity of the business.

Furthermore, Shafeez said the agency’s 50 employees use G Suite and Google Drive to “communicate, collaborate and share” documents.

Benefits include cost savings on hardware and software licensing for the government department, with the agency’s former annual infrastructure budget now lasting for five years on GCP. The result is an employee base focused on “enhancing main functions”, as opposed to draining resources on keeping servers running and meeting data and physical security requirements.

Looking ahead, the MPAO will explore big data to analyse pension-related data in real-time with the aim of enhancing services and insights to the contributing members and pensioners.

Founded in 2014, Cloud Comrade specialises in the delivery of cloud IT services, spanning strategy and design, to deployment, migration and management of IT infrastructure.

Since inception, the start-up has also been awarded various vendor awards, including Amazon Web Services’ Innovation Partner for ASEAN and Asia Pacific in 2017. Alongside AWS, other key vendor alliances include Google Cloud, Dynatrace, SumoLogic, Alibaba Cloud and Trend Micro.

In January, ST Telemedia acquired Cloud Comrade, leveraging the provider’s specialist expertise to bolster multi-cloud and digital capabilities.

As exclusively revealed by Channel Asia, the Singapore-based cloud firm - with presence also in Indonesia and Malaysia - will help the strategic investor capitalise on increased digital transformation adoption, specifically within the enterprise space.