Government5 min read

Hummingbird Solutions delivers speed and security to win new government business

Can you move with the speed of a start-up and still meet governments’ unique data needs?

As governments in Asia-Pacific tap the power of cloud and modern apps to transform services, it’s a question more and more organisations are asking.

Traditionally, delivering innovation, modernisation, and speed to market in sensitive fields like government and defence services has been challenging.

The right cloud strategies and partners can change the game.

In fields that involve secret, restricted or confidential data, organisations have been wary of using public cloud services, and have sometimes traded modernisation and innovation opportunities in order to ensure security and compliance. However, a trade-off isn’t necessary.

In Australia, Hummingbird Solutions and AUCloud have built a partnership to provide a solution that meets tough data regulation while also increasing speed to market, which has allowed them to win new business.

The Need for Sovereignty

Data privacy and residency have been the focus of greatly increased scrutiny in recent years.

Many authoritative sources, including government agencies such as the Australian Cyber Security Centre, have said the cyber security environment has deteriorated in recent years. As a global issue, “Soaring numbers of online and mobile interactions are creating millions of attack opportunities,” McKinsey says in a recent report. “Many lead to data breaches that threaten both people and businesses. At the current rate of growth, damage from cyberattacks will amount to about $US10.5 trillion annually by 2025—a 300% increase from 2015 levels.”

Large-scale, high-profile attacks have stolen huge amounts of customer and citizen data across Asia-Pacific, which, according to IBM, has become the region most frequently targeted by attacks.

As well as citizens’ personal data, governments also hold large amounts of sensitive data related to defence and other strategically important fields.

According to cybersecurity company CloudSek, cyber attacks on government bodies increased by 95% globally in the second half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

This challenging environment, along with other factors, including the possibility of data being the subject of another country’s laws, is pushing governments to take action.

From Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to localised data storage requirements in Asia Pacific countries like Brunei, China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, many governments are putting in place measures to protect their citizens' data and keep it within their own borders.

Complying with such regulations can seem at odds with the global, multinational nature of cloud and multi-cloud architectures.

Sovereign cloud solves that challenge by providing onshore cloud infrastructure that complies with local regulations. It gives governments the option to keep data within their own borders but leverage the scale and agility of cloud to move faster and more effectively.

Not surprisingly, demand for sovereign cloud services throughout Asia-Pacific is booming.

Seeking a Sovereign Cloud Solution

Hummingbird Solutions is an Australian IT services company that enables businesses to streamline and optimise their operations, achieve quality outcomes through quality ePMO services and a powerful Project Portfolio Management Platform. This ultimately enables businesses to choose the right set of initiatives, effectively execute them and generate business insights to enable them to transform from good to great.

There is no denying these platforms help organisations run better programs and projects by managing budgets, governance and processes, setting and reviewing goals and helping predict potential problems.

Many of Hummingbird's clients are in government, defence, health, education, and finance, where data sovereignty is increasingly required.

Venesa Lalic, co-founder and COO of Hummingbird Solutions highlights the important point that data sovereignty covers more than where data resides. It also includes who has access.

“As an Australian-owned company, we were looking for a (sovereign cloud) provider that was Australian based and that operated within Australian laws,” she says.

After a thorough search for the best sovereign cloud partner to work with, the company turned to an Australian Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud provider which focuses exclusively on government, defence, intelligence, and other highly sensitive sectors.

AUCloud is an Australian sovereign cloud services and cyber security provider, specialising in servicing government and critical industries, and which also provides sovereign data hosting and protection with capability akin to hyperscaler public cloud offerings. Operating within the VMware Sovereign Cloud framework,  guarantees that AUCloud’s solutions meet rigorous requirements such as solution design and deployment and management capabilities in-line with VMware’s own standards.

Infrastructure and Know-how for On-time Delivery

Sovereign cloud capability and Australian government sector expertise weren’t the only factors that led Hummingbird to select AUCloud. “One of the other key factors was a faster time to market and the business agility for us in order to scale easily,” Lalic says.

AUCloud's services allowed Hummingbird to deliver new solutions to its clients in weeks, instead of the months it would have taken with on-premises infrastructure. With access to AUCloud's knowledge, Hummingbird could also troubleshoot quickly.

Setting up a sandpit with an indoor environment on a public cloud typically takes months and can be costly to enable the level of protected compliance needed. In contrast, AUCloud was able to provide the environment Hummingbird needed, including virtual machines with its operating systems and applications installed, within a day.

“The initial costs just for people, let alone the costs for the data centre space, physical infrastructure and software licensing would make it simply unfeasible for it to do what it does.”

Andrew Thomlinson-Munn, Solution Architect, Hummingbird Solutions

“We wouldn’t have been able to survive if we had to hire all the expertise to build up an environment like this,” says Hummingbird’s solution architect, Andrew Thomlinson-Munn.

A readily available virtual data centre and the management of operating systems meant Hummingbird saved more time and cost by eliminating the need to develop an in-house support team for its infrastructure.

“The initial costs just for people, let alone the costs for the data centre space, physical infrastructure and software licensing would make it simply unfeasible for it to do what it does,” Thomlinson-Munn says.

Hummingbird estimates that its set-up project would have taken three months to complete without AUCloud, putting key defence agency contract expansions at risk.

“We were able to run within AUCloud, who helped pilot the application, so we were still able to achieve our project timelines. The on-premises solution didn’t allow us to do that, but AUCloud did,” says Thomlinson-Munn.

Sovereignty and Security Beyond Government

The need for data security and sovereignty is one shared by many industries outside the government space. Any company that has access to sensitive customer information has the imperative to protect it. “It doesn't matter what industry you're in. If a malicious actor gets into your network and encrypts your data, you're in trouble,” says Brad Bastow, COO of AUCloud.

Organisations can use a few simple questions to start examining whether they need a sovereign cloud solution. Bastow says starting with a data audit, organisations should ask: “Where does your data need to reside, according to your industry’s regulatory requirements?

“If it needs to meet certain legislative and regulatory requirements, then sovereign cloud is probably a pretty good answer,” he advises.

Improved Infrastructure and Enhanced Credibility

Hummingbird specialises in building bespoke virtual applications, rather than building and managing multi-rack environments.

Without the support of VMware Sovereign Cloud Partner AUCloud, it also would have been limited to providing consulting and managed services and been unable to offer hosting or platform configuration capabilities such as its application stack or ePMO platform.

Thanks to the partnership with AUCloud, Hummingbird has gained increased credibility in its key markets and secured large-scale contracts with government agencies and other organisations that need robust security and data protection measures.

Hummingbird plans to expand its solution offerings with AUCloud. The company also aims to develop more solutions within a new cloud environment. Using a VMware-based cloud solution means it can rapidly transition its customers, many of which already use VMware, from on-premises infrastructure to the new cloud.