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Migrating the UNJSPF ICT systems to the cloud: what you need to know

19 June 2023

In March 2023 the UN Secretariat (UN), using an existing system agreement, signed on behalf of the Fund a contract with cloud providers, to move most of the Fund’s information and communication technology (ICT) systems to the cloud.

The migration from the Fund’s current servers to the cloud started in March 2023 and is planned to be implemented in multiple phases until late 2024.

We have interviewed Glenn Mallette, Chief of the Enterprise Operations Section at the Fund, who provides additional information on this initiative.

What is cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting is a popular and convenient way of storing and accessing data and applications over the internet, without having to manage or maintain physical servers.

Is it a proven or an experimental solution?
Cloud hosting is a proven technology with a high global adoption rate over the past eight years.

Are data and ICT systems secured?

Cloud providers can scale their investment in information security, business continuity, and automated testing, that single organizations, no matter their size, find difficult to match.

Is the company contracted by the Fund solid? How was it selected?

The Fund contracted a company previously vetted and selected by the UN Secretariat, and further assessed against specific UNJSPF risk criteria.

What are the main benefits of moving to the cloud?

The benefits are many, and those include:

  • Cloud providers invest large resources in information security and resiliency.
  • Cloud-based applications allow for continuous, gradual upgrades rather than the more disruptive, larger upgrades usually required every 5/8 years.  
  • Organizations can focus more time and resources on member services and less on ICT systems and application management, thus saving on server-related costs.
  • Computing resources can be used on-demand in accordance with the operational requirements of the organization.
  • There is an increased employee flexibility and safety because of fewer employees/contractors required on-site for ICT systems management.

Are there any drawbacks, and how can they be mitigated?

Like any other ICT systems, cloud hosting has potential drawbacks that, however, can be mitigated, as follows:

  • Dependency on internet connection to access the data and applications stored in the cloud. This is a common potential issue that applies to any type of computing environment, regardless to the hosting model. This issue is mitigated with the selection of reliable and redundant internet service providers.
  • Security and privacy risks of sensitive and confidential data and applications in a remote location. These risks are mitigated through the selection of reliable cloud hosting providers, certified against internationally recognized security best practices, data encryption, and engaged in accordance with contracts defining clear and strict terms of conditions of service.
  • Costs of cloud resources could be higher than more traditional hosting models if cloud services selection, deployment, and usage are not monitored and adequately optimized. In reality, the Fund plans to save hundreds of thousands of dollars from 2025 thanks to the migration to the cloud.

Will participants, retirees, beneficiaries and member organizations see a difference in their day-to-day interaction with the Fund?

The Fund’s clients would not notice any difference in their day-to-day use of the ICT systems. It is expected, however, that the overall performance of the Fund services (i.e. response time, deployment of new features, etc.), would improve once the migration is complete.

In conclusion, the advantages of moving ICT systems to the cloud are undeniable. Scalability, flexibility, cost efficiency, enhanced data security, increased collaboration, and continuous innovation are among the many benefits that cloud computing offers. Many UN Secretariat IT services are already cloud-based, like iNeed and Inspira. The contract for the Fund’s server’s migration was approved after a rigorous cloud risk assessment process, which was conducted by the UN Secretariat and further complemented by UNJSPF, to address specific threats and risks associated with its unique operations and requirements. Embracing the cloud empowers the Fund to optimize its ITC systems, streamline operations, and drive innovation in the digital age. As the cloud continues to evolve and mature, it is becoming an essential tool for every organization across all organizations and governments to stay agile, and resilient in an increasingly dynamic IT security landscape.

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