The Australian National Cloud Strategy will have significant implications for the way that the Federal Government does business, not least of all because it has formalised plans to investigate the establishment of a whole-of-government cloud for the use of agencies.
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy launched the plan at today's CeBIT conference. It is the product of a collaboration between his department and the Department of Finance and Deregulation.
Australian Government Chief Information Officer Glenn Archer said that the cloud investigation was symbolic of the Federal Government's commitment to explore the full potential of cloud adoption.
"I think people have been wanting to see a more proactive stance adopted by in terms of the cloud.
"In the future we might want to take this a step further and establish a more formal community cloud environment," he said. "To be quite frank we haven't fully scoped this. We have parked it there in the strategy as a sign that we are going to investigate whether more opportunities lie in this space for us."
The National Cloud Strategy also represents the first time the Government has gone as far as laying down minimum requirements for agency consideration and utilisation of cloud. Under the plan agencies will be formally required to consider and adopt cloud options when they represent best value for money, within applicable risk parameters. They will also be expected to migrate public facing websites to cloud hosting at natural refresh trigger points, and to adopt public cloud services for the purpose of testing and development where appropriate.
The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will release guidance to agencies on meeting these actions later this year.
The Strategy also reflects a shift in thinking on the part of the Federal Government towards cloud, from a superseded cloud policy often criticised for being conservative.
Archer says that this parallels a shift in attitude towards cloud computing that he has observed amongst agencies themselves.
"There is no doubt that independently of us agency interest in the adoption of cloud has evolved from 'we don't go there' to 'we think that's really cool and we should make the shift'," he said. "However agencies who are still not so comfortable with the cloud will also have to respond to the Strategy".
The National Strategy's genesis has also been pushed along by support from very high places.
"By good fortune the cloud issue attracted the attention of the Prime Minister and she spoke about the importance of having a national cloud strategy and looking at its potential to benefit the whole country. This gave us a context in which we could work with the DBCDE and Senator Conroy on the plan, and at the same time gave it a higher profile.
"I think that this focus and collaboration has resulted in a much better outcome. We would have published an update to our own cloud policy anyway but it maybe would not have been as extensive as what we have today," said Archer.
In his own address to CeBIT delegates, Archer also announced that AGIMO had released a refreshed cloud policy which would streamline the earlier edition.
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