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DSITIA’s cloudy outlook

by Pallavi Singhal •
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The adoption of cloud based solutions will not necessarily be all smooth sailing for agencies, if the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts’ (DSITIA) difficulties in moving its email environment to the cloud are any gauge. The Department is currently experiencing difficulties due to complexities in existing arrangements.

DSITIA’s Queensland Government Chief Information Office successfully piloted cloud email solutions in 2013 under stage one of the Digital Communications and Collaboration project, with plans to complete a full transition to email-as-a-service within DSITIA by 2013-14.

However, the rollout is facing a “number of identified risks (that require mitigation), likely to impact timeframes”, according to information published on the Department’s ICT dashboard.

“The issues are related to DSITIA’s complex technical environment made up of multiple networks and service providers,” said a spokesperson for the Department.

“Some parts of the Department are using cloud email successfully. However, the key aim is to approach this responsibly to establish a sustainable and robust solution that will ensure minimal impact on the Department’s business.”

The implementation of cloud-based email at DSITIA is the first stage of the Department’s $3.4 million Digital Communications and Collaboration Project. Following the email implementation, DSITIA intends to develop a revised business case for “other capabilities (to be determined)”, according to its ICT dashboard. The Project is expected to be complete by the end of 2014 and despite issues with the email component, a spokesperson has told Intermediumthat “the overall project is still on track for implementation”.

DSITIA is also currently leading the establishment of a whole-of-government panel for the procurement of cloud-based email and collaboration services. It approached the market under a restricted tender in September 2013, but no timeline has yet been provided for the panel’s establishment.

“DSITIA is committed to ensuring that the arrangements are available for use as soon as possible, which is dependent upon a successful market engagement and establishment of the new arrangements,” said a DSITIA spokesperson.

Government-wide use of cloud-based email services is expected to deliver savings of up to $17 million per annum, according to IT Minister Ian Walker.

Elsewhere on the cloud front, Walker has stated intentions to explore ERP-as-a-service at a whole-of-government level in coming months.

“In the next six months my department will also assess options for ERP as a service for finance and payroll systems on behalf of the rest of government departments,” he said at an estimates hearing in July 2013.

Finance and payroll services are currently provided by Queensland Shared Services (QSS). However, work is underway to make all services contestable through the open market following recommendations by the Queensland Commission of Audit. The 2012-13 DSITIA annual report outlines plans for “the introduction of service contestability to improve efficiency, reduce cost and enhance the value-for-money of services provided” by QSS.

DSITIA’s ICT dashboard, which provides information on the progress of the Department’s ICT initiatives, has also identified a number of other projects experiencing problems:

  • The Managed Service Transition Project to “transition out of managed-service contract arrangements and implement replacement electronic-document and records-management system and workflow for Queensland Shared Services” is experiencing issues with costs and timeframes, according to the dashboard. “Actions to resolve these [issues] are imminent,” said a spokesperson from DSITIA. The project was originally expected to be completed by September 2013, ahead of changes to QSS;
  • The Platform Upgrade Project to upgrade and replace critical systems’ infrastructure by October 2013 is facing delays due to “issues identified with current infrastructure capabilities”; and
  • The Database Hosting Services Refresh of ageing physical servers with “high-availability real application cluster databases on virtual servers” is facing delays and potential cost blowouts due to administrative issues.

The Department’s new Director-General Sue Rickerby has taken over management of these projects from former DG Andrew Garner since October 2013.

The overall implementation of the Queensland Government ICT Strategy 2013-17 will also fall into new hands soon, with the impending appointment of a new whole-of-government CIO who will sit within DSITIA.

The Department advertised for the role following the departure of former Government CIO Peter Grant in May 2013.

“The selection process is nearing completion [and] an announcement regarding this appointment is expected shortly,” said a DSITIA spokesperson.

Related Articles:

Queensland Government goes ‘cloud first’

Queensland ICT Strategy progress update

QLD ICT Action Plan to strengthen project controls

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

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  • QLD
  • IT Services
  • Finance & Services
  • Andrew Garner
  • Department of Science
  • Information Technology
  • Innovation and Arts (DSITIA)
  • DSITIA Digital Communications and Collaboration Project
  • Email-as-a-service
  • ERP-as-a-service
  • Ian Walker
  • Peter Grant
  • Queensland Commission of Audit
  • Queensland Government Chief Information Office
  • Queensland ICT dashboards
  • Queensland Shared Services (QSS)
  • Sue Rickerby