A country report on the state of cloud computing in Japan makes good reading. The country comes in at First place in the BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard. This scorecard looks at accumulated points of several different aspects of cloud computing and then grades countries accordingly. The various aspects considered were legislative readiness, anti cybercrime laws, management of intellectual property rights, interoperability, international harmonization of cloud computing rules and infrastructure and statistical indicators:
- Laws and regulations concerning collection and use of personal data – Japan has a Law for Protection of Personal Data since 2005. There is also a law on this subject that is specifically applicable to the public sector as well.
- Scope of coverage – the data privacy laws are comprehensive and cover both private and public sectors well. There are certain relaxations for organizations that hold less than 5000 records, but these relaxations do not interfere with the basic provisions of data security.
- Compatibility with Privacy Principles of the EU data protection directives – Japanese laws are broadly based on EU directives and OECD guidelines. However, the exemption that Japan provides to small datasets is not part of EU or OECD guidelines.
- Japanese data privacy laws are compliant with APEC Privacy framework and Japan is a full member of the APEC.
- Recourse to legal remedy – there are clear legal remedies available to individuals. Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution lays down the groundwork for this and says that all people shall be respected as individuals. In the past there have been occasions when the constitutional provisions have been tested and upheld against the government.
- Role of independent regulatory agencies – while there is no single regulatory agency, every major government department has its own watchdog. These agencies can even ask for reports from the private sector and issue orders for corrective action.
- Controllers of data are not required to register themselves with the government. In general, they are free to work independently.
Japan has an exceptionally high penetration of broadband. It is said to have one of the most complete broadband infrastructure in the world. By 2010, over 90% of Japanese homes had broadband upload exceeding connectivity at higher than 30 MBPS. It also has the highest number of fiber to the home connections and the country has a stated target of covering 100% homes with fiber giving greater than 100 MBPS connectivity. These are not merely figures, when achieved they will allow cloud computing applications in Japan that much of the developed world can only dream of.
One great example of a cloud success story in Japan is provided by the migration of the Japanese postal service to use cloud computing. The Japan post network has 244,000 post offices and is considered to be the largest bank in Japan with more than 100 million clients. Prior to 2007, it was getting bogged down with a slowing network and application and was having problems servicing its six million insurance clients and 14 billion individual posted items.
A new solution was needed. Shutting down – even temporarily – was not an option and something transformative was required. After the postal service was privatized in 2007, a decision was taken to move to the cloud. A SaaS / Paas combination was chosen with some services being purchased as they were and others being written specifically for the postal service.
All 24,000 post offices were given connectivity and an iterative model of development was followed that allowed each of these to test the new services and offer comments in real time.
This shortened the development time considerably and enabled developers to respond to feedback in real time. One after the other, services were migrated to the cloud and the entire migration – consisting of billions of records were ported to the new service within the same year.
Of course, much of the success can be attributed to the excellent infrastructure already available in the country. Cloud computing in Japan has pushed the level of service delivery to levels that are unprecedented for public offices anywhere in the world. Developers all over the world should take note.
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About the Guest Author:
Sanjay Srivastava has been active in computing infrastructure and has participated in major projects on cloud computing, networking, VoIP and in creation of applications running over distributed databases. Due to a military background, his focus has always been on stability and availability of infrastructure. Sanjay was the Director of Information Technology in a major enterprise and managed the transition from legacy software to fully networked operations using private cloud infrastructure. He now writes extensively on cloud computing and networking and is about to move to his farm in Central India where he plans to use cloud computing and modern technology to improve the lives of rural folk in India.