Federal Government agencies can now procure Disaster Recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) to save data centre space, IT infrastructure and resources.
The Federal Government’s Chief Technology Officer, John Sheridan has congratulated Comcare for procuring a Data Recovery solution in an arrangement that can be ‘piggy-backed’ by other Federal agencies.
According to Sheridan, Comcare was in need of a disaster recovery solution, however, it did not have the funds to obtain a traditional data centre solution. Furthermore, Comcare’s DR requirements were outside the parameters of the Data centre as a service (DCaaS) multi-use list (MuL). DCaaS is intended for solutions with a contract duration of less than 12 months and a value of less than $80,000).
Comcare opted to approach an approved vendor on DCaaS to deliver the solution outside of the MuL. The agreement was signed with a Multi-agency clause to allow other agencies to join the arrangement. This is in-line with the Coalition’s ICT policy which recommends the “use of public cloud services, open government and increased sharing of resources across agencies”.
The Coalition’s ICT policy also stated that there should be a “default expectation that private or public cloud solutions will be used whenever efficient scale is not achieved at agency level”.
According to the contract, “The Comcare DRP [Disaster Recovery Project] establishes procedures to recover technology systems following a catastrophic incident that renders these systems or services unavailable for an unacceptable period of time.” Comcare has not yet published the supplier.
In 2012, a survey of 50 light-user agencies by The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) in the lead up to the establishment of DCaaS found that 19 agencies were interested in disaster recovery services and hosting support.
A trend appears to be emerging in terms of placing the Disaster Recovery solution in the cloud prior to any broader adoption of cloud by an agency. In March 2014, NSW’s Department of Trade and Investment (DTI) issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) for an Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform to host and test systems under development in a hybrid cloud model. The first project flagged to be developed off the platform was a disaster recovery solution.
The solution was expected to save money through a pay-per-use contract whereby the system could be set to stand-by when it was not being used. EOI documents state the “platform is charged monthly for hourly usage and when the system is switched off it does not incur charges for system only the storage still retained”.
NSW agencies are in particular need of disaster recovery solutions. An Audit Report in September 2013 found that the number of NSW agencies with no solution had risen from 14 in 2011-12 to 17 in 2012-13. Additionally, 45 per cent of the largest 76 agencies had not tested their disaster recovery plans within the last 12 months.
Federally, a near failure of IT systems at the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) in 2013 led to the Agency undertaking a $16.1 million data centre project to house its IT systems and electronic records off-site, and transform its existing data centre into a disaster recovery facility.
In other jurisdictions, Queensland University deployed a Shared Virtualization Environment in 2013 which included a disaster recovery and business continuity function. Tender documents indicated that DRaaS would reduce its overall data centre footprint and reduce its IT infrastructure costs.
Victoria Legal Aid also currently houses it disaster recovery in the cloud. The Agency has a 100 per cent virtual infrastructure environment. "Virtualisation of servers makes [DR in the cloud] a lot easier to do. Restoring from back-up tapes when a disaster is declared would not address data integrity across [our internal] systems. Duplicating data to a hot DR site was needed,” ICT Infrastructure Manager, David Emmett told Fairfax.
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