Australian Government inches toward the Cloud

The Australian Government has signalled moves to encourage adoption of Cloud-based services, with attempts to remove stigmas that have prevented integration by agencies in the past.

The move comes as a victory to Cloud vendors, who have in recent months lobbied governments to rethink procurement strategies relating to both the private and public Cloud.

Lead government IT procurement agency, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), last week released a draft strategy paper (PDF) with an aim to educate agencies on the delivery model and discuss potential future adoption for public-facing, unclassified services and information.

The agency outlines the potential introduction of services on a private Cloud platform within five years and use of public Cloud for citizen information within a decade.

According to the draft strategy, several agencies have already begun trialling private Cloud services, including the Australian Tax Office, Treasury and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Computerworld Australia understands the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has also considered using public Cloud-based platforms such as Microsoft's Windows Azure platform - which currently does not host data centres in Australia - to provide a scalable platform for the public-facing portion of its online visa and client lodgements. In a statement, a spokesperson for the department said the procurement process for improved online services were continuing, with a decision yet to be made on the matter.

Under the strategy, AGIMO will lead transition to a public Cloud by moving its public-facing websites from March this year. A public cloud service provider panel will be established by the end of the year.

“However, the legal/contractual, economic and security aspects of cloud computing are still relatively immature,” the strategy reads.

Potential risks outlined in the strategy paper include service levels, increased complexity, budgeting concerns and vendor lock-in. The paper does not outline the regulatory and legislative concerns previously used as issues blocking Cloud adoption within government, apart from agencies’ requirements to observe relevant acts.

The draft strategy echoes similar moves by the South Australian Government, which hopes to use current trials of public Cloud services within agencies to reassess its risk management framework around the software.

The rethink could ultimately lead to prescribed use of some public Cloud-based email and customer relationship management (CRM) services, according to government CIO, Andrew Mills.

“State jurisdictions are so broad that the risk factors for the organisation are quite different,” Mills told Computerworld Australia last year.

“You can’t impose a single solution for everyone. You have to provide the tools and let them work out the needs for their business.

“You certainly wouldn’t be using public Cloud CRM for highly sensitive personal information.”

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australian on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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