Australian Government Cloud Strategy — Where to next?

In an era of gravitational shifts in ICT delivery, Cloud is potentially the most pervasive and disruptive wave in a generation. IT departments are finding themselves significantly challenged in the re-imagination of the definition of services and the ways in which they are procured, managed and measured.

Cloud services are marketed very heavily on a set of expected benefits to organisations, some of which only apply to a subset or specific industry vertical. The Australian government has been proactive in addressing cloud through the development of a policy, now it its third iteration while state governments a following closely behind and disseminating their approach through to the local government strata.

The October 2014 Federal Cloud Policy

Australia has adopted the US standard (NIST) for defining what “Cloud” means the key characteristics of which are:

On Demand self-service

Consumers can provision environments automatically including compute and storage without direct human interaction.

Broad Network Access

Services and capabilities are accessible from anywhere and on any authorised device.

Multi-tenant/Resource pooling

Services must be built to provide for multiple customers or tenants with the ability to dynamically assign resources across consumer controlled geographies.

Rapid Elasticity

Capabilities can be scaled up or down quickly and potentially automatically in an effectively unlimited manner.

Measured Service

Services provisioned for tenants must be metered and reported to provide customers with transparency as to the effectiveness of the service in question.

The extension of these key tenants provides cloud consumers with 3 compliant service models to choose from:

Software as a Service (SaaS) — Applications run on Cloud Infrastructure where the consumer has no responsibility for the application, its back-end or the underlying infrastructure

Platform as a Service (PaaS) — A capability provided to customers where they can host their custom apps. Here the customer takes responsibility to manage the app or service but not underlying infrastructure or operating systems.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) — A virtual data centre where the customer does not take responsibility for underlying infrastructure but has the ability to provision and manage environments, operating systems and so on.

So what does this all mean for our Australian government landscape? From a federal perspective the policy wording in the Australian Government Cloud Computing Policy is just short of mandating cloud as a preferred approach, recommending a path to get there with low risk environments addressed first. State policy in Victoria and NSW is a little more conservative, recommending consideration of cloud services as a minimum whilst reflecting that good procurement diligence is required for all technology selection, whether in-house or cloud based. At both state and federal levels, approaches are proposed which make good sense and align well to any architectural framework and process.

Malcolm Turnbull has not held back his views on government and cloud:

As we know, cloud services represent a very important opportunity for governments and public sector agencies to reconsider their traditional ways. We need to move away from the ‘box hugging’ mentality that resists any move to the cloud. This is not unique to government of course, but private sector has more plainly transmissible incentives to cut costs and promote efficiency.

Your Posture

So where are you at? One simple measure we guide our customers through is a brief assessment of maturity based on the following model:

We find the majority of government departments and local authorities we are dealing with are beginning the process of cloud adoption. To now there has been some resistance due to privacy and sovereignty issues but the shackles are off and positive steps are being taken towards next iteration environments. The only way is up it would seem and Australian Government is very sensibly on board. It seems from an industry perspective that they may just be getting it right. The proof though will be in the procurement numbers over the next couple of years — how much of the $6 billion government ICT budget will be spent on cloud? And what impact will the 2015 budget have?

For more information on each of these policies, follow the links below:

Australian Federal Government Policy and Guidelines

Victorian Government CIO Council

NSW ICT Strategy

About the author

Dan Wimpress

Dan Wimpress is a Consultant Architect with Thomas Duryea, with the company since 2010. His pragmatic approach leads our customers in making good technology decisions, avoiding tech debt and driving innovation. Dan is part of our Consulting and Advisory practice and focusses in areas of ICT strategy, sourcing, roadmaps and risk analysis. He’s a father to 3 girls and is passionate in leading the TD indoor cricket team!

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