After more than 12 months of speculation, signs that Australian Governments are warming to the cloud are beginning to emerge.
However not everyone is making their approach at the same pace. The following jurisdictional overview indicates where each government stands on cloud solutions and how close they are to realising their vision.
The NSW Government is breaking clear of the pack to become the boldest adopter of cloud solutions amongst all of the Australian jurisdictions, and the first to take real steps towards a centrally coordinated, whole-of-government cloud migration.
The State plans to have a pilot private government cloud up and running by the end of 2012-13, ahead of a full agency migration to a trusted cloud infrastructure commencing in Q1 2013-14.
Meanwhile an informal trial of cloud solutions has already taken off at the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (DTIRIS), with self-proclaimed “caped crusader...[fighting] a never ending battle against the paranoia of cloud” David Kennedy at the helm.
The Department has signed a $14.5 million contract with SAP to host its finance, human resources and payroll systems. Less sensitive data will be hosted on servers in Germany, whilst protected payroll information will remain in Australia.
We are also yet to see what Transport for NSW will do with cloud, after approaching the market in search of as-a-service alternatives for messaging, mobility and desktop provisioning earlier this year.
The Federal Government is making a careful approach to cloud compared to NSW.
It has left the adoption of cloud solutions, along with all of the risks and benefits that they represent, in the hands of agency IT heads. This reflects the realities of the devolved procurement environment in Canberra where agencies have autonomy over their ICT solution decisions providing they comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and mandated panels.
The approach is summed up by the cloud policy statement released by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO):
“The Australian Government Cloud Computing Policy states that Australian Government agencies may choose cloud based services if they demonstrate value for money and adequate security.”
AGIMO’s recent approach to market to establish a Data Centre-as-a-Service multi-use aimed at those small agencies which stand to benefit from them the most, is also in keeping with this agency-based approach. It is the first of AGIMO’s coordinated procurement arrangements that is not compulsory for agency use.
Devolution to the agencies also means that the most influential moves in the market may well come from one of the Tier 1 departments.
The Department of Defence has already indicated it hopes to “transform Defence's data centre model and computing infrastructure into a modern, flexible and private cloud based platform” as part of its Centralised Processing initiative.
Queensland and Victoria
Both the Queensland and Victorian Governments have announced that whole-of-government ICT Strategies are on the way, and it appears certain that cloud computing will be addressed by both.
Queensland’s ICT Minister Ros Bates has already expressed interest in a cloud-based email solution following the abandonment of the state’s centralised email and identification service.
"A cloud-based solution doesn't require a large capital investment and provides an effective way to manage a commodity-based information technology service," said Bates in a 29 June media release.
Western Australia has just launched a mandatory whole-of-government ERP solutions panel which will include software as-a-service delivery options within its scope.
South Australia has given tacit approval to the use of cloud computing, via its policy guidance on cyber security.
In its Government guidelines on cyber security, it advises that “cloud computing and in particular ‘Software-as-a-Service’ presents the South Australian Government with many opportunities including the potential to reduce electronic storage and internal information and communication technology [ICT] capital investment requirements. However, it also presents potentially significant cyber security risks that require due consideration”.
As early as November 2010 the Archives Office of Tasmania had already issued policy guidance on managing the recordkeeping risks associated with cloud computing, but as yet there is no information on take-up by agencies.
In July 2011, the Northern Territory Government issued its own Cloud Computing Policy and Guidelines, indicating that “the Northern Territory Government (NTG) and its agencies may choose cloud based services if they demonstrate value for money and adequate security and privacy” thus matching the devolved approach favoured at a Federal level.
There is no public domain data available on the ACT government’s intentions with regard to cloud computing, although a number of storage infrastructure upgrades, including the move to a new data centre in 2013-14 were flagged in its 2012-13 Budget.