by Adam Bender

Cloud is the future: NSW government

Sep 25, 20134 mins
Cloud ComputingGovernment

The new finance minister and CIO of the New South Wales government have said they will gently push state agencies toward the cloud.

The government’s transition to cloud service is a major component of an implementation update issued today for the NSW government’s ICT strategy. In addition to cloud, the update discusses opening government data, ICT procurement, information management and ICT skills.

“We’re moving away from large, lengthy projects from within government agencies to an incredibly effective use of the cloud into the future,” Andrew Constance, Minister for Finance and Services, told media at the Ministerial ICT Forum in Sydney.

Constance, who was named minister last month after former minister Greg Pearce was sacked for misconduct, said the NSW government has been careful not to dictate to agencies.

“It’s a great challenge, because as a central agency we want to be able to provide advice, but at the same time, we have the responsibility of driving efficiencies right across government,” he said.

“We don’t want to have a carrot-and-stick approach. We want to be able to work collaboratively with the skilled staff across agencies to be thinking more differently.”

Laurie Glanfield, who became CIO of the NSW government in late July, told the forum that moving to the cloud is “a challenging area but it’s also an exciting opportunity for us to move away from spending a lot of money on infrastructure and starting to acquire a much more mobile and agile range of services to deliver the services we need to deliver to the community”.

“I’m certainly keen to see my department … play an increasing active role in assisting government agencies to review their service models and to consider how they can leverage dramatically improved outcomes through the adoption of modern ICT services.”

Under its cloud policy, the NSW government has required agencies to consider cloud when making ICT investments but has left it up to the agencies to decide how and when.

“There’s no timeframe on it,” said William Murphy, executive director of ICT policy at the NSW Department of Financial Services. “What we’ve done is put in place an environment that enables agencies to make that move to the cloud.”

The government has sought to “upskill the ICT staff across government” so they understand the benefits of cloud, said Constance. A recent consolidation of data centres, from 130 data centres down to two, should also drive agencies to cloud services, he said.

ICT Advisory Panel chair John Baird praised the NSW government’s move into the cloud.

“Cloud-based technologies [are] definitely the future,” he said.

“It’s been very pleasing to me to see the openness of the New South Wales government and how prepared they are to accept this new paradigm to transform their internal operations and move in one fell swoop from the old buy, own and depreciate mentality through to the new ‘let’s buy it as a service’.”

Constance said the NSW government is halfway through implementing the 85 actions identified in its ICT plan released about a year ago.

The update released today explains how the NSW government plans to:

  • Develop a digital strategy increase citizen access to information
  • Release an open data policy making more government data available to the public
  • Establish multi-channel services through Service NSW centres
  • Create a cloud policy to provide guidance to agencies how they can move to the cloud
  • Support agencies’ transitions to as-a-service by adding more products and services to the government’s ICT Service Catalogue
  • Write an ICT workforce management strategy to improve ICT skills in government
  • Build a location intelligence strategy to better manage the government’s spatial data assets.

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