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FRNSW’s new cloud email system “darn good”

by Michael Read •
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Fire and Rescue NSW’s (FRNSW) migration to a cloud-based Microsoft email system, one of the five cloud trials undertaken by the NSW Government in 2013, is complete and with only a few minor bumps along the way.

In an interview with Intermedium, FRNSW’s CIO Richard Host confirmed that the agency’s 8000 staff had been successfully migrated away from their Novell GroupWise arrangement to a cloud based email system by the end of last year and that the new system is working well.

“One of the things that’s happening now is that people can access their email on their personal phone if they want to because the new email system is compatible with anything. So already we are seeing ease of usage. Host said that accessing the email system from home was a vastly better experience than the previous system.

“All that email traffic doesn’t need to go to head office because it can just all go to the internet. So it really readies us for the future”.

“The other thing that this project did was it got us to build the infrastructure in the DMZ between our internal systems and internet so that we can now much easier leverage to any cloud…making it easier to use other cloud services.”

Host sees cloud computing is a key enabler of the agency’s desire to move forward technologically.

“What we didn’t want to do was put in a 20th century in-house solution when clearly the way to go for a commodity product like that is in the cloud. The majority of people are already accessing email on mobile devices so what’s the point of bringing the traffic in-house just to put it back out again? We’ll go straight there,” stated Host in a separate interview with The Australian.

According to the Final Report by the ICT Policy Business Unit at the Department of Finance and Services (DFS) into the five cloud trials, the business objective of FRNSW’s project was to both lower costs and improve internal service delivery of email to end-users.

Host acknowledged that there were a few minor bumps along the way.

“Someone should have told us that [the new cloud based Microsoft email system] would have worked faster if we had later versions [of Internet Explorer]…Some people were managing multiple email accounts, someone should have told us that they needed more powerful computers with more memory. So if we had known a few things in advance we could have made things smoother.”

The Final Report into the five cloud pilots indicated some other issues arose in FRNSW’s cloud implementation.

According to the Final Report, it became apparent that the adoption of an as-a-service system had ramifications on business process issues such as email retention periods and document management systems.

FRNSW has had to adapt to the new environment and redefine the boundaries between email and document management solutions.

Host indicated that FRNSW will be conducting user surveys to address outstanding issues and confirm that the new system continues to meet its objectives.

The NSW Government’s Cloud Pilot Project was initiated to test and understand the implications for the NSW public sector of transitioning to cloud-based as-a-service solutions.

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