Swiss sign contract for private cloud service

Swiss government employees like this woman pictured in the tax office in March 2015 will use a new cloud service and data warehouse that is being privately developed Keystone

A Swiss office has signed a contract with Hewlett Packard in Switzerland to develop a secure cloud computing service and a centralised data warehouse for the federal government.

This content was published on April 23, 2015 - 20:44

The Federal Office of Information and Telecommunication said on Thursday that rather than develop its own server infrastructure it would begin work on the two projects with HP to serve the entire federal administration.

It emphasised that security requirements will still be met despite the use of a private contractor. The expanding Swiss data storage industry has likewise sought to gain trust amid rampant worries about government and economic espionage, fuelled in large part by revelations of US intelligence agency spying and reports of similar activity from China.

But the Swiss boast of strong data protection laws engendered by a tradition of privacy, discretion and political stability. Some data storage providers in Switzerland even put servers in former military bunkers scattered in secretive locations around the countryside.

The matter of jurisdiction over the servers, depending on their location, also has been an issue around the globe. But the data storage industry in Switzerland also has obstacles in terms of limited space and planning procedures.

The contract for the data warehouse will cost CHF137 million ($143 million) and the contract for the private cloud service will be CHF60 million, according to a statement from the office.

"With these awards, we can develop computing that offers high quality and reliability, which will further increase the efficiency of federal government,” the office’s director, Giovanni Conti, said in the statement.

The agency described the new services as more efficient and less costly for maintenance, by allowing federal agencies to better adjust the volume of their usage. It said the government now has about 4,000 computer servers, but that the new computing platform in the cloud will offer more storage.

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