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CIPS Chair Blog: Greetings from Kazakhstan!

Day 1 - I arrived in this very Canadian like city (except for the Russian and Kazakh signs everywhere) Monday Dec 10th at 6:40am.   This was delayed from my original arrival time of 5:45am but considering we had been delayed 3 hours on the tarmac in Calgary, diverted from Frankfurt to Munich due to a snow storm and having to rebook my ticket to Astana, KZ through Vienna; it was kind of a miracle I made it at all.  However it was not a surprise when my luggage did not arrive.  The language barrier reared its head when a number of us were trying to fill out the forms with the Air Astana employees.  Everyone seemed very unsure the process and if our bags were ever going to show up. 

The Architecture Council sessions started at 10:00am so there was no time for me to feel sorry for my misfortunes.  I thought I would just have time to have a quick shower, but this was cut short by the shower head falling apart with a huge clatter.  WELCOME TO KAZAKHSTAN!

Needless to say the rest of the day got much better.  This was the first planning workshop I’ve ever been at where we had translation headsets.  All the hosts and local presenters spoke in Russian which along with Kazakh, is there two official languages.  The presentations were of course all focused around Kazakhstan’s government cloud initiatives.  The international presenters were from Denmark, USA, Korea and I presented that afternoon on the new Shared Services Canada department just legislated June 2012 as well as some of the provincial, open data and open portal initiatives.  The presentation that received the most feedback from attendees was the proposed methods of performance measurements that will be used to track and encourage process automation and migration to the government cloud.  The sessions went to around 6:30pm, Kazakh IT work very long hours, usually a 12 hour day.

We were then taken to an amazing 6 course dinner in a revolving restaurant, that evening so by 10:00pm I was showing my age and had to turn down the invite for a Karaoke bar visit.  The one thing that struck me as soon as I began to meet our hosts from the National Institute of Technology (which is basically Kazakhstan’s federal IT department) was how young everyone was.  They are a very hardworking, dedicated group that are meeting incredibly tight deadlines and working long hours to get it done.   The country is lucky to have the well educated young IT professionals to help bring the new Information Kazakhstan Plan-2020 to fruition.


Day 2 -  Dec 11, 2012 started with great news my luggage was at the Astana airport so I was relieved.  Althought it was quite liberating to spend a full day without all the ‘stuff’ we drag along.  Really a toothbrush and chap stick was all I really need to survive, who would have known.  Tuesday’s sessions were organized as a roundtable to encourage more feedback and discussions from the public servants in attendance from the public agencies, offices and other ministries.  There were a few more presentations on government outsourcing and the legal implications of all the technology and process change happening in Kazakhstan.   The discussion took the form of questions posed to the international experts on methods and process around service delivery.  We talked about system life cycle management and selections methods for application and server consolidation.  Since the Enterprise Architecture framework has been chosen as the guiding principles for the work, the consensus was the as-is inventory of systems will be a critical step to be completed before the to-be architecture can be defined.

There were representatives from ZERDE the National Infocommunications Holding that is the umbrella organization for all Federal ICT departments and agencies.  The Vice-Chair was in attendance to answer questions and stress how important this initiative is to the Kazakhstan government and that much more planning and communication will occur with local governments to determine the detailed plan needed to accomplish the improvements. 

Again this day was completed with a well done meal at the Duman Hotel, with many thank-you toasts, which is another tradition in Kazakhstan.  Also all international experts were given gifts which depicted a Kazakh landmark or tradition.   It was an amazing experience overall.  Our hosts were appreciative and made us feel welcome.


Day 3 – Dec 12, 2012 The day started early with the car coming to pick us up at 2:40am, to ensure we arrived at the air port 3 hours ahead of time.  Our flight left Astana at 5:40am, then a 3 hour stop over in Frankfurt, then off to Calgary which took 9 hours brought me home to Saskatoon by 6:45pm.  I knew I was back in Canada when the capacity of the plane went from 400 to 40 and the captain was boarding in front of me. 

Some Pictures:




Brenda Byers, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P

Chair, CIPS National Board



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