Friday, 10 October 2014

Australian Government Now Officially Cloud First

Adoption of the cloud within Australia's government agencies has not been as successful as hoped which has led federal officials to establish a new 'cloud first' policy that goes into effect immediately.  The policy was recently set forth in a document drafted to outline the responsibilities of each agency in adopting and procuring cloud services.

According to news sources, the document reads, in part, “under the Government’s Cloud Policy, agencies now must adopt cloud where it is fit for purpose, provides adequate protection of data, and delivers value for money.”

The new policy essentially dictates that all federal agencies will use cloud services wherever these will reduce costs, increase productivity and protect sensitive data.  The document also outlines benchmarks and procedures that agencies can use to determine whether cloud services are applicable to them or not.  If so, they are expected to solicit bids from a number of contractors previously confirmed by a government panel as being able to provide adequate service.

Government officials hope to save up to 30% per year by adopting cloud services where practical.  Whether that includes IT services and data management functions is not clear.  What is known is that adoption of the cloud will reduce the Australian Government's costs for infrastructure, hardware and software.

Australia's move does not come as a surprise to those who pay attention to cloud computing.  The Government previously commissioned a study to determine how much money could be saved by using the cloud to eliminate duplication and fragmentation while still increasing productivity.  Earlier this year, they also revised a policy that made seeking offshore cloud services difficult.  The new policy language now makes it easier than ever.

Cloud procurement in Australia has been slow since the start of the decade.  With total expenditures of only AUS $4.7 million over the last four years, it is clear that government agencies are reluctant to make the switch.  Now they will have no choice.  As long as cloud services meet qualifications, all government agencies must choose them as the first and best option.

A Better Government

Proponents of the plan say the new cloud first policy will be of great benefit.  They say it will make for a better government that is leaner, more efficient and spending taxpayer money more wisely.  The biggest concern is coming up with a list of qualified service providers able to meet contracts without artificially inflating prices however that's what the Department of Finance special panel is for.

Those opposed to the plan voiced concerns over data security and price competition.  They are not convinced the Government will save money in the long run, nor do they necessarily believe security in the cloud will be adequate.

As for cloud providers, it is too soon to tell whether the competition for Australia's government agencies will be hot and heavy.  We suspect it will be slow going at first, but more providers will get into the market as more agencies make the transition.  That is usually how it goes.

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