During my very interesting visit to Japan I had a chance to visit the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), which is responsible – among other things – of the Japanese government cloud initiative, nicknamed Kasumigaseki Cloud.
They presented a relatively sound strategy based on building a Government Shared Platform as a result of consolidating hardware across multiple ministries and developing a common platforms providing authentication and management support. Like for similar initiatives in the US, UK and Australia, I am not entirely sure that they really need a fully fledged “cloud computing” platform as opposed to just a well virtualized consolidated set of assets. However, as we discussed how this infrastructure would relate to what vendors are doing, ranging from the usual “public cloud” suspects such as Google or Amazon, to Japanese vendors like Fujitsu (that just announced a local government cloud), I was pleased to see how they seemed to be getting the various nuances and appreciating how the different pieces of the puzzle relate to each other. Their approach looks prudent and conscious of potential risks and showstoppers, and their questions and observations were always very pertinent.
What I also noticed, in this like in other meetings, was a sort of assumption that Western countries, and the US in particular, would be more advanced. I actually reassured them that, besides perhaps having addressed the procurement angle a little bit earlier – with initiatives like Apps.gov in the US or the Government Application Store in the UK – other countries are pretty much at the same level, and probably Japan may be a little bit better in linking data center consolidation and government cloud more tightly than in some other countries.
Finally, what really struck me what the realization of what Kasumigaseki means. In reality, Kasumigaseki is the area where most government buildings are located in Tokyo, and that’s the meaning for almost everybody. But in Japanes “Kasumi” means fog and “seki” means gate.
So Kasumigaseki can be read as “Fog’s Gate”. What a wonderful name for a government cloud!
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