NZ Fry Up: NZ Budget 2021: What’s in it for IT; Waikato DHB ransomware attack; Broadband plan for hybrid workers

New Zealand IT, tech, and telco news and views from our editor in Auckland.

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NZ budget 2021: What’s in it for IT

Digital, technology, IT—however you brand this sector, you don’t expect there to be too much handed out come Budget Day (well, not after that enormous spend up on fibre broadband in the last decade). Still, it’s a little disappointing to look up Minister for Digital Economy David Clark’s web page and find crickets.

OK, so maybe not crickets. There was a budget announcement about KiwiRail (60 new trains!), but that’s because he is also minister of State-Owned Enterprises (overseer of KiwiRail). And a little IT did sneak into the announcement, with new IT systems planned for the rail network.

You had to go rustling through other people’s releases to find more tech bits. Minister for Health Andrew Little announced $516.6 million to upgrade health infrastructure, which includes a national health information platform. Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash says the government will invest $44 million over the next two years in continuing Digital Boost, which provides training courses for small businesses. Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta is heralding an upgrade to Scott Base, New Zealand’s station in Antarctica, at a cost of about $344 million. Yes, that last one isn’t strictly IT but we are hoping the Scott Base IT team—who Computerworld readers got to know recently—get a piece of that rather large pie.

The lack of digital focus will be disappointing to many, including it seems TUANZ CEO Craig Young, who sent out a comment within an hour of the budget’s public release: “The government has missed the opportunity to advance a holistic digital strategy that addresses the big issues that our members have identified, such as the lack of technical skills to increase our digital and cybersecurity capability, and does not address the widening digital divide.”

Young did point out there is some money for repurposing some 5G spectrum for rural connectivity (full marks to Young for finding this tech bit).

Meanwhile, our sister site Reseller News have also been fossicking through the budget papers and have turned up $20 million for a new tenancy bond system, $22 million to support the Research and Education Advanced Network which provides telco services to high-end research programmes, and $12.7 million to support the rollout of digital devices and application to schools.

DHB ransomware attack puts cybersecurity in the spotlight—again

The Waikato District Health Board is experiencing the full impact of a ransomware attack this week, which is causing ongoing disruption. Is it a Conti hack? Did they do enough to plan for a cybersecurity attack? Is the disparate state of the health IT in New Zealand to blame? No doubt all of this will wash up in a report that will (sadly) make for interesting reading.

It’s another wake-up call for, well, everyone. So, what are New Zealand organisations planning to invest on information security and risk management technology and services in the coming year? Analyst firm Gartner puts the figure at $758 million, a 6.9% increase over 2020.

Security services—including consulting, hardware support, implementation and outsourced services—represent the largest category at almost $438 million. The smallest but fastest growing market segment is cloud security, which is forecast to reach $3 million this year, an increase of 35% from 2020.

NZ hybrid workers get a broadband plan option

Internet service provider Orcon—currently part of the Vocus stable—has relaunched, reimagined, and reinvented broadband this week. What that actually means—once you take out all the exciting ‘r’ words—is the company put out new plans aimed at the hybrid-work person, someone who works sometimes at home, sometimes at the office. Among the offerings is a ‘priority support’ package, which means that for $15 a month you can jump the queue if you experience a technical fault. It will be interesting to see how well that one goes.

Orcon chief executive Taryn Hamilton notes that the company is set to launch an 8000Mbps plan soon. At the launch event he reminisced about starting work in the industry in 1998 when the plans being marketed were 52Kbps. We’ve come so far!

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