AWS and Google win Japanese government cloud contract

The government aims to digitally transform its ministries and municipalities, some of which still use floppy disks

Japan’s Digital Agency has selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud to run its first nationwide cloud computing project in the country, as the government tries to implement digital transformation across its ministries.

The two providers were chosen as they met around 350 requirements across security, legal issues, and data management, an official from the agency, according to Nikkei Asia. AWS and Google will first be used to run the agency’s website as well as by eight municipalities on a trial basis.

The government cloud project is aiming to unify and standardise digital infrastructure across ministries and approximately 1,700 municipalities, which run their own systems. Domestic system integrators have usually been selected to manage data centres and business applications, which the government believes has led to customised systems with high maintenance costs and overlapping functions.

The vendor lock-in has also prevented the rollout of public services and hampered the country’s COVID-19 response.

It was also revealed that the budget for government cloud computing until next March is around 2 billion yen (£12.3 million) with the budget for upcoming years still to be determined.

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The Digital Agency was launched on 1 September and is set to control most of the government’s IT budget. It is aiming to move local governments to the cloud by 2025, which could reduce the annual IT budget of £5 billion by about 30%, according to a government official. 

“As a cloud services provider directly contracted by the Digital Agency, AWS will help the Japanese government to modernize IT by directly offering advanced technologies and global best practices,” an AWS spokesperson said to IT Pro.

“It will also enable us to continue to work with Japanese AWS Partners and startups to accelerate innovation in citizen services, drive local economic growth, and solve some of the biggest challenges in society.”

IT Pro has contacted Google for comment.

The move comes as part of a push by the Japanese government to implement digital transformation across its ministries, which have tended to lag behind.

The government has only just begun to phase out the use of floppy disks, according to a report from Nikkei Asia, as officials saw the outdated tech as ultra-reliable, saying they almost never broke or lost data. Sony stopped producing the disks in 2011 but, thanks to their reusability, there are still plenty to go around. However, various subdivisions of the Tokyo government have already started moving the data from floppy disks to other online storage formats.

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