On 29 May 2013, the Australian Government released its national cloud computing strategy, which aims to promote the use of cloud computing to government agencies and the private sector.
The strategy notes that Australian small businesses and not-for-profit organisations lag behind their Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) counterparts in the use of online technology for several reasons, including:
- insufficient access to the necessary infrastructure to support sophisticated cloud services
- a lack of awareness of how to make best use of cloud computing, and
- a lack of confidence that some organisations and individuals have in adopting cloud computing services.
The strategy outlines the Government's vision for Australians to create and use world-class cloud services to boost innovation and productivity across the digital economy.
Three core goals are identified in the strategy:
- maximising the value of cloud computing in government
- promoting cloud computing to small businesses, not-for-profits and consumers, and
- supporting a vibrant cloud services sector.
The strategy sets out the Government's key actions for each of these goals.
Maximising the value of cloud computing in government
To achieve the goal "to be a leader in the use of cloud services to achieve greater efficiency, generate greater value from ICT investment, deliver better services and support a more agile public sector", the strategy lists a number of key actions to be undertaken, including:
- Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will improve the guidance available to government decision-makers on how to evaluate the benefits of cloud services and how to procure and manage them
- AGIMO and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) will work together to continually improve government practices based on lessons learnt from experience
- The Department of Finance and Deregulation (DOFD) will issue procurement guidance requiring government agencies to consider public cloud services for new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) procurements
- government agencies will transition public facing websites to public cloud services, where it represents the best value for money, and
- by the end of 2013, the Government will develop a business case to analyse the benefits and drawbacks of a more centralised approach to the provision of cloud services to agencies.
Promoting cloud computing
To achieve the goal of "Australian small businesses, not-for-profit organisations and consumers will have the protection and tools they need to acquire cloud services with confidence," the following key actions will be undertaken:
- DBCDE and the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) will jointly:
- work with stakeholders to promote information tailored to industry segments about cloud computing
- enhance the online information available to small business and not-for-profit organisations about the use of cloud services, and
- enhance existing programs, such as Digital Enterprise, Enterprise Connect, Technology and Knowledge Connect, the Digital Local Government and Small Business Advisory Service
- government and industry stakeholders will develop a voluntary Cloud Consumer Protocol to encourage information disclosure by cloud providers and inform consumers, and
- DBCDE and OAIC will publish guidance on the privacy reforms and
their effect on the cloud services industry.
Supporting a vibrant cloud services sector
To achieve the goal of Australia having a "vibrant cloud sector" supported by a skilled ICT workforce, a competitive cloud services industry and regulatory settings to support growth, foster innovation and protect users, the following key actions will be undertaken:
- the Government will collaborate with industry and tertiary
institutions to ensure the development of skilled and cloud-aware
Austrade will work with industry to:
- promote Australia as a trusted hub for data storage and processing
- encourage foreign investment and participation, and
- DBCDE, through the National Standing Committee on Cloud Computing, will continue to examine ad hoc cloud computing issues, opportunities and challenges.
What this means for agencies
The strategy reflects a general Australian Government policy towards the use of cloud computing in circumstances where it is appropriate and represents value for money. We anticipate that as further investigation is undertaken by AGIMO and DBCDE leading to better information being made available on the benefits, as well as risk mitigation strategies around concerns over privacy, data security and data sovereignty, there will be an increased push for agencies to consider using the cloud to maximise value for money.
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