Cloud services offer the potential for faster and more agile project implementation, with the aim of providing efficient administration services for citizens, businesses, education, the scientific community and the authorities. Cloud services are IT services from a freely accessible provider that makes these services available online for everyone (e.g. Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, etc.).
Growing need for cloud services
Cloud services are already used by individual administrative units to generate and offer their public services (e.g. swisstopo's map services). The use of cloud services meets a growing need on the part of the departments and the Federal Chancellery, as revealed in a survey conducted in autumn 2019 by the Federal IT Steering Unit (FITSU). Moreover, an increasing number of IT services are now offered exclusively as cloud services (e.g. Microsoft 365, SAP HR).
Clouds are thus an important component when setting up the platforms and infrastructures for the digital transformation of the Federal Administration. In addition to clouds, these infrastructures still continue to provide infrastructure services from the Federal Administration's own computer centres.
Federal Administration's cloud strategy
In order to ensure the orderly and safe use of cloud services, basic principles have to be established. To avoid the departments/the Federal Chancellery and the offices each devising their own set of principles, the FITSU, in close cooperation with the departments and the Federal Chancellery, has drawn up a common cloud strategy.
Federal Administration's cloud strategy (in german and french)
The Swiss Cloud issue must be distinguished from the of ‘Public Clouds Bund’ procurement project (WTO-20007). While Public Clouds Bund procurement benefits both the central and the decentralised Federal Administration, Swiss Cloud is aimed at interested parties from business, academia and public administrations and operational organisations at all three levels of government.
According to a survey conducted in 2020, there is no need for a «Swiss Cloud» in the form of an independent technical infrastructure subject to public law and as a success factor for Switzerland as a business location. However, there is strong support for Swiss Cloud as a label for the secure use of cloud services that meet the special requirements of data sovereignty. In addition, there is a need for clarity on legal issues, on the inclusion of Switzerland in European cloud initiatives, on common basic cloud services for Swiss digital administration and on guaranteeing immunity for the data of international organisations.
In response to the findings from the needs assessment for a Swiss Cloud, the Federal Council intends to conduct a detailed examination of further aspects that may benefit Switzerland as a business location, including a certification system for cloud services, the need for crisis-resistant services, international networking and Switzerland’s positioning as a location for data storage.
Key players from business, academia, operational organisations and public administration are showing strong interest in a Swiss Cloud as a label for the secure use of cloud services that meet special data sovereignty requirements.
There is also a need to gauge the potential for inclusion in European initiatives (e.g. GAIA-X), to clarify the options for guaranteeing immunity for the data of international organisations, and to examine common basic services for the Swiss Digital Administration. In addition, there is a need to address various legal and regulatory problem areas.