A cloudy week in government just got cloudier, even in the sunshine state.
Queensland’s Minister for Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts Ian Walker yesterday announced that his Government would adopt a ‘cloud first’ approach to ICT services, in response to the recommendations of the Costello Report.
In doing so the State follows in the footsteps of the US, UK and even New Zealand Governments, all of whom have mandated that agencies must select cloud options for ICT procurements unless they can demonstrate that non-cloud alternatives are more cost effective.
The plan will be bolstered by a September approach to market by the Minister’s Department (Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts or DSITIA) for electronic communication and collaboration services, and infrastructure-as-a-service options. The resulting contract or contracts will be available to all Queensland agencies but will not be mandatory.
First cab off the rank for the cloud treatment will be email, which has been a priority area for attention since the incoming Newman Government dumped the Identity, Directory and Email Services (IDES) project which aimed to establish a whole-of-government user-identity management and email system.
“We’ve just completed a successful cloud trial of email services within the Queensland Government Chief Information Office.
“The trial, one of several we have planned, has delivered valuable modelling data that will transform electronic communications across Government,” the Minister explained in a statement.
The QGCIO trial ran on Google Apps for Business and the Minister’s office said that both Google Apps for Business and Microsoft Office365 would be tested.
DSITIA expects to have fully transitioned to a cloud email platform by the end of 2013.
It is forecast that the cloud first approach could halve the Government’s email costs.
The Costello Report estimated that the government-wide roll-out of cloud email could save Queensland up to $20 million per year, a figure that has been revised down to $17 million in this latest announcement.
“Since information was provided to the Commission of Audit during 2012, the total cost of ownership model for government email and cloud alternatives has been refined, and learnings from the email pilot applied,” said the Minister’s spokesperson.
The Queensland Government has been dropping hints about its preference for cloud email solutions since June last year when Walker’s predecessor Ros Bates singled out cloud options as offering better value for money than the $47.3m IDES program.
“A cloud-based solution doesn’t require a large capital investment and provides an effective way to manage a commodity-based information technology service,” she said.
Following the email project the Government will commence a program of work to identify and transition other services to the cloud.
The announcement comes just one day after the release of the Federal Government’s National Cloud Strategy, a joint initiative of the Department of Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy and the Department of Finance and Deregulation.
The Strategy included its own version of a ‘cloud first’ policy.
“Government agencies will be required to consider cloud services (including public cloud services) for new ICT procurements. Government agencies will choose cloud services, where the service represents the best value for money and adequate management of risk, compared to other available options,” it states.
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