The Federal Government’s $6 billion ICT spending program will see a greater uptake of cloud services. Under new guidelines, agency heads will be able to use hosted services in Australia and offshore.
A joint announcement by communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, finance minister, Mathias Cormann, and attorney-general George Brandis, said that only a fraction of government’s ICT spend is on cloud services.
The government did not specify the kinds of information that will be hosted in the cloud, only stating that the administration “is committed to the use of cloud to improve the efficiency of its services.” The focus is on maintaining data security and providing services that respond to business and community needs.
“Fit-for-purpose” cloud access
By adopting cloud services, agencies will be able to deliver better and more efficient services, the government said.
“To unlock this potential, we are releasing the government’s new cloud policy, which requires departments and agencies to adopt cloud where it is fit for purpose, provides adequate protection of government data and delivers value for money,” the government said.
Under renewed arrangements, departments and agencies will need to consider “cloud first” where this is appropriate for their ICT needs.
“To further encourage the adoption of cloud, the Commonwealth is streamlining its decision-making process for agencies considering cloud and other outsourced ICT arrangements.
“We want to see a greater adoption of cloud services and cut through the red tape generated by the process developed under the previous government.”
Agency heads now have the option to approve proposals to place “certain information” in either offshore or domestically hosted (onshore) public cloud. “The removal of this unnecessary red tape will promote productivity and the efficient use of government resources,” the government said.
Future security arrangements
Access to cloud services will be monitored under the Commonwealth’s new Information Security Management Guidelines. These guidelines are available at this website and include risk management strategies that involve outsourced ICT arrangements and access to services.
Earlier, John Sheridan, the Australian government chief technology officer, told CIO that the Commonwealth’ procurement policy takes an “open approach to market.”
He said tenders will be evaluated on the basis of value for money and being consistent with the Commonwealth’s procurement policies.
“Agencies will be able to select what services they transition to the cloud. Finance is unable to predict what services will be transitioned during the lifetime of the (cloud) panel. This is a decision for individual agencies,” said Sheridan.
Cloud adoption timelines
The government’s cloud roadmap notes that there is a modest use of cloud services across government. Cloud procurements through AusTender totalled just $4.7 million since July 2010.
Moreover, only $1.5 worth of contracts have been signed under the government’s Data Centre as a Service Multi-Use List since October 2012.
“To put this in context, the Australian Government spends approximately $6 billion a year on ICT. These figures demonstrate that agencies have made limited progress in adopting cloud,” the government previously said.
Among the cloud adoption timelines, a cloud services panel is due for launch by January 2015 under the auspices of the Department of Finance, a peak agency. This department has run trials involving the relocation of critical data to a secure government cloud. This migration is due for completion during December 2014 and January 2015
The Department of Finance is also reviewing the Data Centre as a Service Multi-Use-List. Additional finalists are expected to be added by year’s end.