The former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), completed an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud pilot before its Machinery of Government (MoG) split into the Department of Education (Education) and the Department of Employment (Employment) following the Coalition’s September 2013 election win.
The pilot program, which began in March 2013, tested whether AWS’s infrastructure-as-a-service offering was compatible with the then DEEWR’s current operating environment.
This was in the context of DEEWR’s interest in “extending application development environments into the cloud, using cloud-based storage to supplement our internal storage capability and providing ad hoc computing environments for the testing of new applications”, as reported in its 2012-13 Annual Report.
According to a spokesperson acting on behalf of Education and Employment, the pilot was a success. Technology used in the pilot included:
- Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud – virtual servers which enable security configuration, storage management and networking;
- Virtual Private Cloud – network separation;
- Relational Database Service (RDS) – SharePoint databases;
- Simple Storage Service (S3) – data storage; and
- Multi-factor Identity and Access Management authentication.
“The Department sees advantages for the use of public/hybrid cloud for most workloads, particularly with Test/Dev, .net applications, SharePoint, document archives, and temporary on-demand environments for performance testing or quality assurance,” said the spokesperson.
However, following the MOG changes only Education has committed to continue to use cloud services. The spokesperson said “Education will be building upon the lessons learned in the pilot and will consume publicly available Infrastructure-as-a-Service”, adding that “a decision about the pilot’s future in the Department of Employment is yet to be made”.
In June 2013, the Chief Information Officer of DEEWR, Susan Monkley, told Intermedium that “We see the cloud as an important part of our future ICT architecture. For us it provides a range of opportunities to shift workloads and free up our people and other resources to be more innovative and productive”. It is simpler for government agencies to enter into supply contracts if the data centre is on-shore.
The Department of Finance’s guide to Privacy and Cloud Computing for Australian Government Agencies states, “When the provider is located off-shore, satisfying Information Privacy Principle 4 (personal information must be stored securely) may be more difficult. By using a cloud service, an agency is relinquishing some degree of control over its data, but not its responsibilities to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act.”
In line with this, DEEWR’s Policy on the use of Cloud Hosted Services rules out storing any of the Department’s information relating to child care services outside of Australia.
Amazon opened its first Australian data centre in Sydney in November 2012. The data centre provides customers with access to services including EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon CloudFront and S3, all of which were trialled in DEEWR’s pilot.
In October 2012, Finance established a Data Centre-as-a-Service (DCaaS) Multi-Use List (MUL). Over $1 million worth of procurement has gone through DCaaS in the year since its inception with agencies signing a total of 22 contracts for private clouds, public clouds, platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service. The MUL is desirable for procuring cloud trials as it has a maximum contract value of $80,000 and maximum terms of 12 months.
The spokesperson from Education was unable to provide the contract value for the cloud pilot. Furthermore, it is unlikely that it was signed through the MUL as AWS is not currently eligible to supply under the DCaaS MUL.
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