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ComLaw website moves to cloud following Government mandate

by Sam Murphy •
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One of the largest websites maintained by any jurisdiction in the world is to transition to the public cloud following the publication of a Request for Tender (RFT) by the Office of the Parliamentary Council (OPC). OPC is an agency within the Attorney General’s Department and is seeking a supplier to provide cloud hosting services for

The Australian Government’s Cloud Computing Policy (the Policy) stipulates that from July 2013 agencies are required to start transitioning websites to the cloud.  The OPC RFT is the first published on AusTender since the Policy issued.  (The Department of Finance hosts in Amazon’s cloud while is also cloud hosted but both were transitioned before the Policy came into effect).

Under the Policy, “Government agencies will transition public-facing websites to public cloud services as their refresh cycle allows, where those services represent the best value for money.”

The successful supplier will be required to design the hosted environment to suit the ComLaw application, host the ComLaw application and provide managed services for the hosted environment including maintenance of the operating system, the SQL server and virtual machines including virtual hardware.

The solution must include a virtual development environment for developers to conduct testing before making changes to the site public. The Policy mandates that “agencies have an explicit requirement to procure public cloud services for their test and development environments”. 

The ComLaw website receives over six million visits a year and services over 5,000 subscription users. Two terabytes of data are transferred through the website every month.

The website holds the full text of all recent Government legislature, details of the lifecycle of individual laws and the relationships between them and related documents sourced from databases within over 70 Federal agencies. In addition to the legislature database, ComLaw provides a user initiated email subscription service.

The 70 plus agencies that publish data on the website will have to have access to OPC’s cloud environment.  

According to the Government’s Cloud Policy, websites that hold citizen information will not yet be able to transition to public cloud. The Policy estimates that due to security concerns, it could be between three and five years before websites containing citizen information to the cloud.

The former Australian Government CIO, Glenn Archer told CIO in 2013 that agencies with high security information will struggle to transition to a public cloud. “[For] their core systems cloud doesn’t seem to lend itself [to the public cloud]… “We anticipate that in due course cloud vendors will probably offer better encryption for their publicly hosted cloud environments and we believe there may come a day when that’s adequate to support or provide support for customer information.”

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For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.

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