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T&T Ready And Able To Provide World Class Data Hosting Services

TSTT Press release

Corporate Communications

Trinidad and Tobago’s data hosting capabilities are on par with its international counterparts.

This was the general sentiment conveyed by a team of experts at the fourth annual Trinidad and Tobago Internet Governance Forum (TTIGF), hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Multistakeholder Advisory Group (TTMAG). The Forum, themed, ‘The Internet and You: Ensuring the Internet’s Future’ took place recently at Naparima College, San Fernando.

Communications Solutions Provider and owner of the region’s most certified data centre, TSTT, participated in the Panel Discussion entitled ‘Data Hosting: Locally or Internationally?’ The session, which was moderated by TTMAG Director George Gobin, featured:

- Ian Galt, General Manager Enterprise Services, TSTT
- Darren Mohammed, Corporate Business Manager for the Caribbean and Country Representative, Microsoft Trinidad and
- Keenan Singh, CEO, Air Link Networks

The discussion ranged far and wide touching on a variety of matters from the Government’s role in IT and data centre development, to the absence of a national cloud policy and its impact, the elements needed to foster Research and Development in new and emerging ICT technologies and the benefits and disadvantages associated with engaging either a local or foreign data centre provider.

Both TSTT’s Ian Galt and Air Link’s Keenan Singh agreed that Trinidad and Tobago had the talent to establish and operate local data centres and to innovate. Galt pointed to TSTT’s own internationally certified data centre (TIA-942-B and SOC II) and its award winning e-tender platform, developed and operated by talented Trinbagonians.

“We are proud that, in the last year, we have won business away from international providers,” said Galt. He further noted that TSTT’s data centre was designed specifically to serve the local, regional and international corporate markets. Adding that it wasn’t just about the infrastructure, but the process, the people and the continuous reinvestment, he revealed: “We’ve just gone through the process to renew our certification which will run us to 2022.”

An emphatic Singh noted that data hosting and related IT services could be bigger than oil for T&T, “the next big thing.” We just need to engage our bright young minds and provide them opportunities so they have a reason to stay in Trinidad and Tobago, he explained.

Microsoft’s Mohammed contributed to the discussion by adding, “We are living at the best time for humankind to innovate…The sky is the limit. Anything a Trinbagonian national dreams of can be implemented because he has technology at his fingertips. The challenge is how we foster that innovation as a country and as parents.”

All the panelists agreed that a key advantage of local over foreign data centres was the ability for the local business to pay in TT dollars rather than foreign currency. Other benefits of hosting locally included support of the local industry which had invested in facilities, overall lower costs because of lower communications costs, and value added services.

In addition, there is a great deal of data that, legally, cannot be stored or transmitted outside of the country such as data classified as top secret and criminal records, Mohammed pointed out. “There is no right answer to data residency. It depends on the data itself and which data could be put in the public cloud and which data should not be there.”

Both Galt and Mohammed said that despite the lack of a national cloud policy, both their companies had provided input into the policy, knew what would be expected, and were already operating their data centres as if the policy was already law. In fact, both data centres wish to operate according to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements, which is considered the gold standard for privacy, security and compliance issues.

“We are ready for it,” Galt said confidently.

The public is invited to visit the Trinidad and Tobago Internet Governance Forum’s website (igf.tt) to view the entire day’s proceedings as well as past annual fora.



Brief Background on the IGF
The United Nations is the Secretariat for the Working Group on Internet Governance, whose mandate is a better understanding of Internet governance and the bringing together of all the stakeholders, which include: Government, Internet users, Academia, Technical community, Civil society and Business/SMEs.

As an open forum, rather than a membership forum, the IGF is for all people with a stake in the Internet. Since its establishment in 2006, it has gained global prominence among stakeholders as an open, inclusive, and transparent forum for dialogue and collaboration.

According to a UN statement: “The IGF is a continual process, with a vibrant online life, where all stakeholders can bring forward issues of concern involving Internet governance.” The IGF website is the portal into this process, and has an online forum for online discussion. Stakeholders can also send the Secretariat comments and issue and position papers for posting in the contributions section of the Website to stimulate discussion.

Brief Background on TTMAG
Formed in 2015, the Trinidad and Tobago Multistakeholder Advisory Group (TTMAG), is an independent entity charged with the promotion and development of best practice policy standards for the TT country code top-level domain (ccTLD) and the local Internet ecosystem in the interest of the Internet Community. TTMAG organised the country’s inaugural national IGF event in 2017.