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Government Cloud Enables Substantial Cost Savings while Enhancing Government Responsiveness

By Microsoft on June 19, 2016

Filed under Microsoft in Government

In order to meet the rising public expectations and demand for quality government services, the Government needs to continuously enhance the cost-effectiveness and responsiveness in e-government service delivery.

GovCloud enables rapid provision of computing resources, with lead time reduced from months to days as compared with our traditional approach in service procurement and installation. This greatly enhances the agility and responsiveness of the Government in meeting public demands for e-government services. The adoption of GovCloud also brings about cost [and time] saving.

—Daniel Lai, Government Chief Information Officer, HKSAR Government

Business Situation

With a goal of strengthening Hong Kong’s position as a world digital city, Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) is committed to ensuring the provision of information and services to the public in an efficient and convenient manner through industry-leading technologies, and supports all government bureaux or departments (B/Ds) to make best use of information and communications technology (ICT) to accomplish their service functions and policy objectives.

To reap the potential benefits of cloud computing for hosting common e-government services for shared use by B/Ds (e.g. electronic information management), OGCIO planned to build a Government Cloud Infrastructure (GovCloud), which comprises a core infrastructure and a shared pool of computing resources. The core infrastructure covers datacenter, network, security, resilience, backup and load balancing services, as well as components of resource virtualization, provision and metering.  The shared pool is created from the aggregation of server, storage and network resources, which is dynamically provided to e-government services based on individual workload demand.

One key challenge is to ensure the highest level of availability and security so that government data and services will not be compromised. Additionally, GovCloud has to be highly scalable on demand to meet whatever traffic and workload when deployed, and at all times.


GovCloud is developed to enable a more agile and cost-effective delivery of common e-government services to meet both the rising demand and the expectations of government B/Ds and the public, as well as bringing economies of scale to drive down the cost of hosting common e-government services with the use of shared central infrastructure.

The private cloud solution for GovCloud is built on Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and Systems Center 2012 R2 technologies. By creating a layer of abstraction over pooled resources, the Microsoft private cloud suite enables true service capability as well as optimally managed applications and services, delivering exceptional agility, scalability and efficiency, as well as complying with the highest requirements for security and privacy.

Atos is the prime project contractor to help implement and operate GovCloud in its datacenters. With a wealth of expertise and experience on managing cloud transformation, Atos cloud infrastructure delivers added value by brokering and orchestrating complex IT landscapes in a common, secure, enterprise platform. Atos has exceptional track record in ensuring uncompromised security at the Olympic Games since 2001 and its standing as an industry security and compliance expert, which helps OGCIO to operate the outsourced private cloud service.


Reduced IT costs; GovCloud helps eliminate the need to build traditional duplicated infrastructures for implementing common e-government services separately.

It also enables B/Ds to enjoy huge IT cost saving with private cloud deployment through economies of scale and consolidating physical servers into virtual machines.

Time saving and better productivity; By using Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, GovCloud has been able to substantially increase virtual machine density in its physical server farms, which in turn lets it scale server resources very quickly. With the capacity increases in Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, the deployment time of servers in GovCloud can be greatly reduced in supporting new applications. Rather than spending time procuring new physical servers, the Atos operation team can easily provision virtual machines in hours.

IT staff of the Atos operation team are also provided with new tools to reduce time-consuming maintenance work and associated downtime.

Agility in meeting dynamic demand; The vast IT infrastructure of GovCloud can be reconfigured far more quickly to meet constantly changing needs of the Government. With Microsoft private cloud solutions, GovCloud has an IT infrastructure that will let it provide servers on demand in a day, bringing great agility to GovCloud and the roll out of e-government services.

GovCloud new blade servers can be plugged into the cloud fabric of GovCloud and are available for use in less than one day. With Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Network Virtualization, for example, GovCloud’s operation team can pull out components such as network switches and plug in new ones without time-consuming integration and testing cycles.

Private cloud computing has sped up GovCloud responses to users’ needs and enabled users to leverage technology to work smarter. As the GovCloud operations are now automated, it will allow administrators to have more time to handle feedback from government users for further improvement.

Reliability and security; Atos is the prime contractor appointed by OGCIO in March 2013 for a period of 7 years to help implement and operate GovCloud, and Microsoft is a main technology partner of Atos in building the private cloud infrastructure.

Recognizing that the market was in transition – from traditional dedicated, private and manual environment to multi-tenancy and automated cloud-based environment, the project teams of Atos and Microsoft worked closely together to implement the complex project on time and on budget. Perseverance was instrumental to our timely delivery, especially through the challenging product development and solution design phase. Dedication and team work contributed to the successful delivery of cloud computing resources in full compliance and on a tight schedule.

GovCloud successfully went live at the end of December 2013, which took just nine months from awarding of contract to completion. It supports the development of electronic record-keeping and collaborative working systems for shared use by B/Ds on the cloud.

GovCloud is a dedicated infrastructure managed by Atos. It is designed in full compliance with stringent government security requirements, for supporting resilience, high availability and high security operations for its exclusive use.

OGCIO will drive wider adoption of GovCloud by more B/Ds and facilitate the introduction of additional e-government services for years to come.

Windows Server® 2012 R2 and System Center® 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2 provides enterprise-class datacenter and hybrid cloud solutions that are simple to deploy, cost-effective, application-focused, and user-centric. At the heart of the Microsoft Cloud OS vision, Windows Server 2012 R2 brings Microsoft’s experience delivering global-scale cloud services into your infrastructure with new features and enhancements in virtualization, management, storage, networking, virtual desktop infrastructure, access and information protection, the web and application platform, and more. System Center 2012 R2 delivers unified management across on-premises, service provider, and Windows Azure environments, in a manner that’s simple, cost-effective, application focused, and enterprise-class.

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