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The recent uptick in data breaches and cybersecurity threats has prompted governments around the world to adopt sovereign cloud solutions to enhance their data security and strengthen the resilience of their IT infrastructure.

In Asia, a significant number of data breaches have been recorded in recent years. According to an October 2023 study by cybersecurity firm, Surfshark, 52 accounts are breached per 100 people on average in Asia. In the Philippines alone, 124 million accounts have been breached since 2004. There have also been several reported cyberattacks in different government agencies in the Philippines over the past couple of months.

Given the urgency of the situation, several Asian governments have taken a proactive approach to safeguard sensitive information and ensure continued service delivery to their citizens through the use of sovereign cloud solutions.

The Sovereign Cloud Landscape

The International Data Corporation defines digital sovereignty as "nations, organizations, and individuals having the ability to determine their own digital future." Sovereign cloud, a component of digital sovereignty, delineates an architectural framework serving as a roadmap tailored to fulfill a nation's mandates concerning data residency, sovereignty regulations, and audit prerequisites.

Sovereign cloud providers across the Asia Pacific region are committing substantial investments to cater to the distinct needs of governments and corporations. These efforts play a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of the sovereign cloud ecosystem, offering tailored solutions to address regional nuances and regulatory demands.

The widespread occurrence of cyberattacks in Asian government domains, which may include ransomware and state-sponsored sabotage, present an imminent danger to both national security and economic activities. Furthermore, the rapid and significant increase in data produced by government agencies requires a strong and reliable infrastructure that can effectively manage and safeguard large amounts of information.

By using sovereign cloud solutions, governments can exercise more control over their digital assets and reduce risks that may come with relying on foreign sources by storing and processing data in cloud environments located inside their own jurisdiction. Additionally, this initiative promotes enhanced resilience by enabling swift responses to emerging threats and unforeseen disruptions.

Adoption of Sovereign Cloud in Asia

A recent survey by IDC revealed that 17% of government organizations in the region are already using sovereign cloud services, while one-third plan to use them within the next two years. The findings demonstrate a growing interest among Asian governments in embracing sovereign cloud services and an increased awareness of the benefits they provide.

In the Philippines, ePLDT, the ICT subsidiary of PLDT, introduced the ePLDT Pilipinas Cloud (ePPC) last October 2023, making it the first sovereign cloud infrastructure in the country. It offers exceptional security, efficiency, and control over sensitive government data.

The ePPC ensures the secure storage and processing of sensitive government data and applications within the Philippines’ boundaries by providing a cloud-based infrastructure and service that is owned and administered domestically.

Navigating the Complexities of Sovereign Clouds

The appeal of sovereign clouds arises from their ability to ensure that data remains within national borders, providing protection against geopolitical disturbances and cyber threats.

Not all industries are expected to jump on this trend, but industries that are subject to strict regulations, such as government, healthcare, and utilities, are expected to be the first to adopt this technology, driven by the strong need for storage and processing of data. This will ensure their operations remain viable in the face of unpredictable regulations.

While the potential advantages of embracing a sovereign cloud are evident for government agencies in safeguarding their data, they also encounter significant challenges, notably the financial burden associated with adopting sovereign cloud solutions. The intricate nature of the technology and the potential safety risks it poses emerge as barriers hindering its widespread adoption. Despite these difficulties, organizations continue to explore sovereign cloud solutions as a means to improve data security and regulatory compliance.

The growth in the utilization of sovereign cloud solutions signifies a shift towards digital independence and robustness in Asia. By leveraging the advantages of adopting sovereign cloud technology and effectively managing operational obstacles, governments may fully realize the potential of this technology.  

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