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SUNFISH – integrating cloud systems while ensuring security of information

Publication Date: Mar 29, 2017
MITA has today organised a conference about the research and innovation project known as SUNFISH. This project, financed by the the European Union research programme – Horizon 2020 aims to find new solutions, in particular for the European public sectors, in the integration of cloud systems. At the same time, this project tries to overcome legislative barriers that make it difficult to use the commercial technology solutions available. 

The conference was addressed by the Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, Dr Emmanuel Mallia who explained that one of the pillars upon which the European Digital Agenda for 2020 is based is the investment on research and innovation. Minister Mallia explained that Europe strongly believes that research and innovation in ICT can generate economic growth that generates work. 

Minister Mallia said that Malta is committed into stimulating research and innovation by being open to innovation. Hence, the Minister said that Government will guarantee the provision of logistic and financial support, together with incentives to those companies that invest time and human resources in the development of innovative products, processes and services. 

The Honourable Minister also spoke about cloud services, which provide large enterprises with opportunities to maximise their ICT investment by federating unutilised resources, as well to small businesses who can leverage on other cloud service providers’ computing resources without the need to build their own oversized infrastructures. 

Minister Mallia was also satisfied to hear that the SUNFISH project utilised the blockchain technology. He reminded those present that the Maltese Prime Minister, Dr Joseph Muscat had proposed the idea that Europe becomes a bitcoin continent. Minister Mallia said that although specific mechanisms will need to be in place to regulate crypto currencies, at the same time we understand that the underlying technology, the blockchain, allows for transactions that are more efficient and transparent than classical ones. 

The Minister for Finance, Professor Edward Scicluna was also invited for this conference, however he could not attend because of other government-related business abroad. However, a record message was viewed during the conference, in which Minister Scicluna said that it was an honour that his Ministry forms part of the consortium which is implementing this project with a number of stakeholders, coming from academia, research organisations and public administrations. 

Minister Scicluna said that this participation underlines the importance for the public sector to foster continuous innovation, particularly in such a strategic domain as cloud computing. He emphasised that we will be experiencing the effects of this technology, together with others like mobile technology and the Internet of Things, in the years to come, both in the private sector and no less by the public sector. 

Minister Scicluna explained that a cultural change in the public sector is required to reach this objective where technology is no longer to be considered merely as a cost unit but as an enabler of agility in delivering services. 

Regarding the local context, Minister Scicluna said that according to our ICT Strategic Plan – Digital Malta, our country has the aim to prosper as a digitally enabled nation in all sectors of our society. Minister Scicluna said that Malta has already achieved positive results in ICT, that can be developed further through cloud computing as it helps solving system integration challenges, regulatory and economic issues, as well as cyber security problems. 

Minister Scicluna also highlighted the close collaboration between his Ministry and MITA which he said could be evidenced through the fact that Malta ranks as one of the European leaders in the the provision of Government online services, where Europe consistently confirms Malta’s good ICT ranking with a high readiness score. 

The conference was also addressed by MITA’s Executive Chairman, Tony Sultana who explained that although cloud federation has been on the market for quite some time, there was no one solution that was secure-by-design and could offer the peace of mind, especially to the European Public Administrations, that data was safe both in transit and at rest. He explained that the SUNFISH project addresses these gaps and proposes a new innovative solution based on the state-of-the-art technologies such as the blockchain. MITA’s Executive Chairman was also pleased that MITA’s employees are leveraging on the benefits of these collaborations, to grow both professionally and personally. 

Later on, MITA’s Head of the Programme Management Department, Pierre Vella delivered a presentation on the opportunities for collaboration, while the Chief Information Officer within the Ministry of Finance, Albert and the Director of Operation and Strategy within the Office of the Commissioner for Revenue, Victor Bugeja delivered a presentation about Horizon 2020 and the SUNFISH Use Case. 

The Scientific Leader of the SUNFISH project, Professor Vladimiro Sassone, together with the Technical Leader, Luca Nicoletti delivered a presentation about the architecture and the security of the project. There was also time for discussion among those who attended for this conference.