Ministries of Foreign Affairs were part of one of the industry sessions at Orange Business Live. Let’s be honest: I never took the opportunity to go and ask about what it was all about before the event. Talking about government issues can’t be exciting right?
And then I interviewed Cor Sjerps (thanks by the way!) who told me about something that looked like a James Bond script! Even better, if you saw Argo (see video below) it’s pretty much what we’re talking about! How exciting is that? :-)
embassies’ typical crisis and needs
When you think about it, Ministries of Foreign Affairs have a lot of issues on a daily basis:
- Many of the MoFA’s embassies are located all around the world: say you’re the German embassy in Japan... how do you communicate sensitive information with your headquarters in Germany?
- Local regulations and restrictions: how do you handle these information locally and on the Cloud when the law between country A and country B is different?
- Unpredictable events (on a social, political, geological basis): what happens when there’s a tsunami or a revolution? How do you keep in touch with headquarters or NGOs? (Fortunately enough, these types of crisis don’t happen every day but still…)
The number one need according to Cor is data protection. And the main idea to answer that revolves around a very secure network and data encryption. And answering this need and facing these crisis used to be easy… until now!
MoFA’s main trend is the “mobile workspace”
Something Cor underlined a lot was that MoFA’s headquarters and embassies are often talking about “temporary locations”, “laptop diplomats”, etc. That is moving workspaces out of embassies. So the need is basically to work from anywhere, at any time and from any device. Yep that’s no surprise: MoFA people are just like us! :-)
how to answer these issues
Whereas before it was about protecting data that was located behind a wall, it’s now all about providing mobility and agility to employees. And obviously this raises serious network and security questions. For example Cor told me that there was a crisis in an embassy in Libya where employees were to be evacuated by helicopter. But how do you organize that if you don’t have a secure communication line between the embassy and HQ?
Another example was about Cloud services: embassy employees can’t use public Cloud services. Alright, they even have their own datacenters. But how is an embassy supposed to be efficient if it’s located on the other side of the world? The latency between the embassy and its datacenter will be huge!
The main idea is to work on networks:
- use a “best in class network”
- provide network acceleration technology
- rely on secure local data storage
- use virtual desktops
- look at upcoming low-latency satellite technologies