Governments have been traditionally slow adopters of new technology, and with the security concerns surrounding the nascent field of cloud computing, the latter can expect little support from official circles. That was the long-held belief.
Fortunately, things have improved in the recent past. Not only have governments encouraged innovative technologies through research grants, they have, in certain cases, adopted them as well. Case in point, the Australian government.
In early January 2011, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) under the aegis of the Department of Finance and Deregulation released a key consultation paper outlining the government’s strategy to shift its processes to the cloud.
According to the document, the underlying objective for the draft cloud strategy is to “develop a pathway for agencies to rationalise their ICT (Information & Communication Technology) asset base and to adopt cloud computing where appropriate.”
The paper includes a proposed plan over the next five years to move government agencies’ computational requirements into a public cloud environment. The migration is expected to take between five to six years, starting with moving publicly available information to a public cloud environment. The entire process is phased into three streams, dealing with cloud enablement, public cloud adoption and whole-of-government integration.
The paper postulates that “the benefits may be substantial” for such a shift towards cloud computing, while warning that “the legal/contractual, economic and security aspects of cloud computing are still relatively immature.” It strikes a balanced view, stating, “that cloud computing is just one of many sourcing models and will not necessarily be a replacement for all of their current sourcing models.”
It says that other countries like the U.S., the U.K., Canada and New Zealand also share the government’s belief that such a transition provides “an opportunity to improve business outcomes through eliminating redundancy, increasing agility and providing information and communication technology (ICT) services at a potentially cheaper cost.”
The paper mentions that certain government agencies like the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (IMMI) have already “commenced small pilots and proofs of concept to evaluate the potential of platform and infrastructure cloud computing.”
The paper also pointed out certain limitations of the strategy, such as migrating private citizen data to the public cloud due to security concerns. “Transitioning citizen (personal) information to the public cloud is not expected to be a viable option within the next several years unless technology becomes available to adequately address the risks highlighted in this document,” it said.
In a statement on AGIMO’s blog, first assistant secretary Glenn Archer said, “Cloud computing is a growing area of interest in ICT, and we’ve worked together with other agencies to prepare a draft paper on the Australian Government’s possible use of cloud computing.” The group has invited responses from the public till the end of this month before finalizing its strategy.
By Sourya Biswas Of CloudTweaks