The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, has welcomed industry investment into cloud computing and has warned that without widespread adoption of this computing model, Australia will be left on the sidelines when it comes to global advances in ICT.
Speaking at a luncheon held by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Conroy said that the National Broadband Network created the opportunity to make the most of what he referred to as a “cloud computing revolution”.
“Cloud computing is developing at a rapid rate, promising to engulf the world’s IT activity within the next decade,” he said. “Just think about where Australia would have been without the NBN, looking from outskirts of the cloud while the rest of the developed world forged ahead.”
The Minister also used his address to single out industry members to be congratulated for their investment into this new model.
“I welcome Telstra’s recent announcement to invest over $800 million into Cloud Computing over the next five years, as well as initiatives by Fujitsu and Macquarie Telecom to build cloud-based data centres here in Australia,” he said.
However, he also noted any technological shift of this magnitude would need to be backed up by a reformed regulatory framework, the establishment of which would be in the hands of government.
“There is always a fear of the unknown and issues around security and storage,” he said. “There are a variety of these issues that a macro-governmental and regulatory in nature.”
“We need to ensure we don’t lag behind when it comes to getting this framework right,” he said.
The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has taken preliminary steps to establishing a solid position on cloud computing and its use within the Federal Government.
In May this year AGIMO released the Australian Cloud Computing Strategic Direction Paper. One of the first actions it heralded was the establishment of a Cloud Computing Framework, covering cloud principles, better practice guidance, checklists and governance arrangements for cloud computing.
The paper also outlined plans to look into a cloud service provider certification program, and a whole of government cloud provider panel.
At the AIIA luncheon Minister Conroy also remarked on the role that cloud computing will play in the National Digital Economy Strategy, especially when it comes to local government.
“The Digital Local Government Program will look at what cloud applications councils could develop to improve service delivery through NBN,” he said, referring to the $17.1 million plan to fund replicable and scalable online services in the local councils which govern the NBN first roll-out sites.
Conroy also revealed that a study was already underway within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) into the benefits of cloud computing, which would assumedly cover the potential improvements it offers to government service delivery as part of its scope.
“An ongoing challenge for the government is to identify specific possibilities for innovation, and to encourage investment in areas of digital productivity, in collaboration with industry,” he said.
“In this context my department is currently working with the AIIA and KPMG on a study into the economic impacts of cloud computing in various sectors, and I look forward to outcome of this work.”