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Opportunities to come as new Federal cloud policy imminent

by Ammy Singh •
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Federal Government agencies and cloud service providers alike can expect to see the procurement of cloud solutions become easier in the not too distant future. As reported by ZD Net, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed this week that the Australian Government will release a revised cloud computing policy in the coming weeks.

Speaking at the launch of the Australia App Economy report on 31 July 2014, Turnbull said the Government will “soon release a revised cloud computing policy to significantly increase the take up of cloud services by Federal Government agencies, consistent with our policy for e-government and the digital economy.”

Turnbull stated that the changes will be announced “in the coming weeks” and will present a range of opportunities for cloud service providers. If consistent with the National Commission of Audit’s recommendations, providers should expect to see increased activity for cloud-based infrastructure, platform and software services.

The Minister indicated the policy would seek to dismantle barriers to cloud services for Government agencies.

“Of utmost important are the actions we’re taking to remove barriers that currently restrict, and in many cases prevent, agencies from procuring cloud services,” he said.

The Coalition Government’s Policy for E-Government and the Digital Economy, released in August 2013, criticised the hurdles to procuring cloud services in Government agencies despite the “notional obligation to consider cloud services”.

“The process required to demonstrate a business case and obtain approval, coupled with onerous legal and security hurdles, have led many observers to interpret the existing rules as a decision to largely avoid the cloud,” the Policy states.

Turnbull demonstrated the consequences of this reluctance to use cloud services by drawing attention to the lack of spending on cloud in a sizeable government ICT market.

“We cannot shy away from the fact that we need to improve the way ICT is traditionally being delivered by government,” he said. “Consider the fact that the Federal Government alone spends about AU$6 billion a year on ICT and yet has spent less than $5 million on cloud services since July 2010.”

This comparatively small investment in cloud services to date comes despite the Government’s current National Strategy for Cloud Computing stating that Government agencies must consider using cloud services as part of any new procurement, and that agencies must opt for cloud where it represents the best value for money and has an adequate management of risk.

The shift towards cloud computing was highlighted this year in the National Commission of Audit’s recommendation that Government agencies increase their adoption of cloud computing by:

The Commission of Audit found that the Commonwealth Government has been slow to adopt cloud computing, instead showing a reliance on bespoke, legacy systems. It also argued that concerns about the security and privacy of placing public data in the cloud, and general risk aversion, have impeded the progress of cloud adoption.

The upcoming revised cloud policy announced by Turnbull is expected to build upon the Australian Public Service Information and Communications Technology Strategy 2012-15, after the Coalition E-Government and Digital Economy Strategy criticised the APS ICT Strategy as “containing few explicit measures of success or failure, and limited enthusiasm for embracing new ICT models.”

The APS ICT Strategy currently states that “APS agencies will make greater use of cloud computing where it provides better value for money than the alternatives and is appropriately secure.”

The ZD Net article can be found at this link.


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