Cloud has moved beyond proof of concept implementations in Australia to wide-ranging roll-outs across most departments and ministries. Current government policy, according to the DTA, requires agencies to consider cloud when it comes to replacing ageing IT infrastructure, and the recent move by the ASD to certify three PROTECTED cloud providers has further bolstered the move.
“We’re seeing strong demand for cloud across all aspects of government,” said Aidan Tudehope, Managing Director, Macquarie Government. “We now have all the policy pillars in place to support cloud adoption
Mr Tudehope said there are three pillars when it comes to government cloud adoption. These include procurement, security – which is where ASD certification comes into it – and the third pillar being the DTA’s cloud agenda.
“CIOs can’t hide behind proof of concept anymore,” Mr Tudehope said. “Now is the time that real work needs to be done.”
The benefits of cloud for government are myriad. In the old way of doing things, agencies would outsource their IT needs to large, generally multinational, service providers.
The issue with this arrangement is that it lacked agility, and government was often locked into expensive, long term contracts that no longer served their needs as technology and public-facing services evolved.
“The benefits of government going to cloud is that it injects agility and visibility into the way [agencies] deliver IT services,” said Mr Tudehope.
“Agility is critical for the DTA agenda, because if IT can’t move at the speed needed to deliver services, they will be left behind and IT will become their Achilles heel.”
“Cloud allows [agencies] to deliver IT in a new way, the right way, rather than trying to twist the arm of outsources,” he continued.
As most observers realise, cloud isn’t any one thing. It can be a public cloud, like those provided by the Californian giants including Google, Amazon and Microsoft. It can be a hybrid arrangement, or it can be a private cloud. Sometimes cloud is a mixture of the three.
Mr Tudehope said that hybrid cloud is the most accurate description of the sort of services government is using today.
“They are coming from an on-premise environment run by outsourcers, and that sort of environment will have a role for many years,” he said. “What agencies need is a mixture of on-premise, private cloud, and also multi-tenanted public cloud environments.”
The recent ASD certification of three PROTECTED cloud providers – of which Macquarie, with its two data centres, is one – is recognition that not all cloud types and providers are created equal.
In Australia, there’s also the requirement that government data be maintained on-shore, effectively locking out some of the large providers who maintain offshore data centres and use ‘follow-the-sun’ arrangements when it comes to providing support.
The ASD classifies data at two levels. There is unclassified, and then classified / protected, with a range of sub-classifications in between them. Macquarie is certified at both levels, and its 100 local engineers all have ASD security clearances.
“We were the first operator added to that list at scale,” said Mr Tudehope. “For government agencies, that certification is compelling, and that is why we are getting more and more traction in the government space.”
While not all cloud providers are created equal, neither are government agencies when it comes to cloud adoption. Mr Tudehope said there are some laggards but they are few and far between, and are generally outshone by the agencies that have adopted the full digital transformation agenda and are completely cloud-oriented.
He points to the ATO and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as two prime examples of agencies that have fully adopted the cloud agenda. The ATO has moved data and workloads into the cloud, and is providing APIs to allow entities such as tax agents to connect and use the ATO’s data and cloud services.
DFAT has also embraced the agenda, and is creating innovative services such as allowing citizens to renew their passports via a ‘smart’ online interactive form that makes the process simpler, quicker and clearer for citizens. “Both agencies have taken significant steps in their digital transformation agenda,” he said.
“We are heavily committed to government business,” he added. “We are hiring, investing in people, cloud capacity and our data centres. It’s very much a winning combination.”
Macquarie Government is a valued partner of InnovationAus.com’s Open Opportunity forum to be held in Canberra on October 30.