by Byron Connolly

Feds inch closer to more widespread cloud services

Aug 08, 20143 mins
Cloud ComputingGovernment

The Federal Government is edging closer to providing agencies with easier access to cloud services following the release today of a draft head agreement for a whole-of-government cloud panel.

The government is seeking feedback from the industry on the draft, aimed at simplifying contracts and creating a more flexible and competitive marketplace for cloud services across government.

The Department of Finance will approach the market this quarter and expects to establish a panel of cloud service providers by December.

“Finance recognises that cloud services are constantly evolving. Through simplifying the head agreement and contracts, we are seeking to improve flexibility and reduce burden on industry,” the department said today.

This follows the Government’s release on Tuesday of a cloud procurement discussion paper, which includes feedback from agencies and the IT industry around whole-of-government cloud procurement. The paper was authored by Australian Government CTO, John Sheridan.

Only 35 contracts worth $1.4 million have been signed under the Department of Finance’s ‘Data Centre as a Service Multi Use List’, established in October 2012. This provides agencies with a simpler way to buy cloud and cloud-like services under $80,000 over less than 12 months. Federal agencies indicated the take-up of cloud services could have been higher if the list did not have limitations on contract duration and value, the paper said.

“Finance has undertaken research into what is currently in the marketplace both nationally and internationally including how governments have approached the implementation of cloud services and the key factors that may affect agencies and the suppliers,” the paper stated.

The government has been slow to adopt cloud computing services. In May, the National Commission of Audit recommended government follow other sectors such as banking and adopt a ‘cloud first’ policy for all low risk, generic IT services.

The commission said this policy could help reduce IT costs over the next three to five years as cloud computing becomes the default option.

“A reliance on bespoke, legacy systems, concerns about security and privacy of placing public data in the cloud, and general risk aversion all impede progress,” the NCOA said at the time.

The Department of Finance said the objective of the cloud panel is not to generate savings but to “encourage and support agencies in considering cloud options and moving to the cloud”.

It said a cooperative (voluntary) procurement process – where multiple agencies approach the market together – is suitable because the market is not mature enough to treat cloud services as a commodity.

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