Google and Cloud Comrade keep Maldives Pension Administration Office services running and secure

The Maldives Pension Administration Office (MPAO) manages the retirement pension schemes for about 130,000 employees and 1,650 employers in the Republic of Maldives, a South Asian Island country in the Indian Ocean.

The agency had been using a virtualisation product installed on four hosts and running 18 servers, a storage area network and rewalls to store and secure its data. However, having a data centre in-house wasn’t easy; the MPAO lacked the in-house expertise and resources to maintain hardware and meet the security requirements of auditors concerned about the highly sensitive data being stored.

Ahmed Shafeez, Director of Operations and IT at the MPAO, went to India to meet with some of the agency’s partners and learned that they were managing their entire infrastructure on Google Cloud Platform. Shafeez studied up on the cloud and compared prices and was intrigued by Google’s offering. He contacted Google, who put him in touch with Cloud Comrade, a consulting and services partner based in Singapore. Over five months, Cloud Comrade and Shafeez gave presentations to the agency’s board of directors and successfully convinced them to allow the pension agency to become the first institution in the country to move to the cloud.

Cloud Comrade worked with the agency to develop a specific architecture, holding daily two-hour meetings for at least a month to discuss the process. The company helped the agency replicate its virtualised servers in the cloud and created others in the environment from scratch, and worked to ensure that the agency’s main pension management application was well integrated. To resolve connectivity concerns the island agency had, the Cloud Comrade team guided them to use two different ISPs. All of the agency’s internal emails had already been moved to G Suite and the internal file server was replaced with Google Drive. The entire project was completed on schedule, taking less than two months.

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“One of our primary reasons for shifting to Google Cloud Platform was we didn’t want an in-house data centre. With Google, we simplified from a complex infrastructure with rewalls, storage, virtualisation and servers, which were all difficult for us to manage,” says Shafeez.

The MPAO stores and manages its data on Google Cloud Platform, keeps track of contribution collections and payouts and is managed by an application called Koshaaru. The system is backed up in several Google Cloud Platform regions to ensure the continuity of the business. The agency’s 50 employees use G Suite and Google Drive to communicate, collaborate and share documents.

In Cloud Comrade, the agency found the partner it needed to help it move to the cloud thoughtfully and securely. As a result, the agency has saved money on hardware and software licensing costs — its former annual infrastructure budget now lasts five years on Google Cloud Platform. Its IT staff can focus on enhancing its main functions instead of worrying about keeping the servers up and meeting data and physical security requirements.

In the future, the MPAO will explore big data to analyse pension-related data in real-time to provide better service and insight to the contributing members and pensioners. Shafeez is also encouraging other government agencies and private organisations to move to Google Cloud Platform to eliminate unnecessary infrastructure costs.

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