Australian Govt has “cloud last” policy, says Ovum


news The Federal Government has taken a “cloud-last” position on the adoption of the new generation of cloud computing technologies, analyst firm Ovum said today, as it lacked a clear vision of the benefits of the cloud computing model, but was very clear about its risks.

Organisations and governments in Australia and globally are currently grappling with cloud computing, which is a term covering a wide variety of technologies which have in common that they are purchased on a usage basis, rather than as a discrete set of products to be implemented. Examples include Software as a Service (for example, Google Apps and and Infrastructure as a Service (commonly purchased from Australian companies such as Telstra, Optus, HP and Fujitsu, or global companies like Amazon Web Services.

Jurisdictions such as the United States and the United Kingdom have taken what they have described as “cloud first” positions, which means they will be default seek to procure technology as a service rather than implementing their own platforms. And last week, New Zealand followed.

“Cloud computing is an exciting, emerging technology which will contribute directly to better public services, promote innovation, and substantially reduce costs,” the country’s Minister of Internal Affairs Chris Tremain said in a media statement last week. “These technologies are pervasively changing the nature of ICT service delivery across the world. Cloud technologies can significantly change the way the public sector operates, enabling the provision of better public services for all New Zealanders.”

However, in a blog post published yesterday, Ovum Asia-Pacific research director Steve Hodgkinson said Australia’s Federal Government was not following its counterparts in other similar countries.

“The Australian government’s policy position on cloud computing is ‘that agencies may choose to use cloud computing services where they provide value for money and adequate security’, wrote Hodgkinson. “This can be characterised as a ‘cloud-neutral’ position. However, when combined with the publication of documents that primarily describe the potential or theoretical risks and issues relating to cloud services, agencies will interpret the position as ‘cloud last’ and play safe, avoiding or deferring cloud adoption.”

Hodgkinson said because of this approach, there had been minimal adoption of cloud computing services by Federal Government agencies. “Agencies still regard cloud services as unproven and risky,” he wrote. “Consequently, agencies are deferring productivity and innovation benefits, and the ICT industry is frustrated that the government is slow to buy cloud services and is not, therefore, stimulating the development of robust onshore Australian cloud service capabilities. New Zealand’s stance, on the other hand, directly challenges the status quo, asking: “Why not cloud?” This is a much more direct catalyst for innovation.”

Hodgkinson said a more strategic approach by Australia’s Federal Government would focus on two key elements, with the first being a “more visionary” statement of the Government’s broader ICT strategy which would legitimise a challenge of the status quo — while still enabling agencies to choose solutions which worked best for them. The second factor would entail a more balanced framework to assist agencies in making “practical assessments” of the benefits and risks involved in sourcing ICT capabilities.

The analyst’s comments come as the Federal Government’s peak technology strategy division has made a series of announcements aimed at pushing forward its vision with respect to public sector uptake of the new generation of cloud computing services and making such services available on the right terms to departments and agencies.

In a series of blog posts published in August, the Australian Government Information Management Office, which sets overarching technology strategy across the Federal public sector, released a number of documents and made several moves aimed at helping to put guidelines and frameworks around government adoption of the cloud.

Firstly, AGIMO released an approach to market document for datacentre as a service services (DCaaS), inviting interested suppliers to respond with details of their solutions in this area – which are commonly listed as part of the broad ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ class of cloud solutions. The procurement effort will create a standardised list of suppliers which departments and agencies can purchase services from – although it’s not mandatory. In a post on AGIMO’s blog, the group’s first assistant secretary John Sheridan wrote that the DCaaS effort represented a departure from historic procurement practice.

Secondly, AGIMO has also released several key documents which the agency hopes will assist departments and agencies in responsibly purchasing cloud computing services. The first is entitled A Strategic Approach to Cloud Implementation: An Australian Government Perspective, and aims to provides agencies with an understanding of the issues around considering and transitioning to cloud services.

“We designed the guide as an aid for experienced business strategists, architects, project managers, business analysts and IT staff to realise the benefits of cloud computing technology,” wrote AGIMO first assistant secretary (acting) Scott Wallace in a separate blog post. “It provides an overarching risk-based approach for government agencies to develop a cloud strategy and to implement cloud solutions.” In a second post, Wallace also released another related document – the final version of AGIMO’s Community Cloud Governance Better Practice Guide.

However, Hodgkinson is correct that AGIMO and other Government agencies have not taken a “cloud first” position that would actively stimulate change within departments and agencies, with much of the current debate around cloud computing in government circles continuing to revolve around data sovereignty issues.

It is unclear whether Hodgkinson’s comments that government inaction on cloud computing means that local cloud computing investment is not being stimulated are correct.

A number of major IT vendors have recently made major investments in on-shore cloud computing infrastructure in Australia. For example, just several weeks ago, US hosting giant Rackspace confirmed plans to launch a large datacentre in Sydney later this year, to support growing local demand for its services after entering the Australian and Zealand markets in 2009 using its infrastructure located overseas.

In late June, IT giant IBM confirmed plans to deploy its enterprise-class public cloud computing infrastructure in Australia, in a move which will give large organisations and government departments with data sovereignty concerns another option for utilising public cloud facilities based in Australia, as opposed to offshore. A week before that, global technology giant HP opened its colossal $119 million new datacentre in Western Sydney, from which it will provide specialised government-focused cloud computing services, among other services.

One example of a major cloud computing deployment in government recently has been the July announcement by German software giant SAP that it had won a substantial deal with the NSW Government’s Trade & Investment agency. SAP described the deal as its biggest deployment of its Business ByDesign software as a service suite globally, and its first cloud platform win in the local public sector.

I have been a long-time critic of the Federal Government’s glacially slow adoption of cloud computing technologies, and especially the Australian Government Information Management Office’s somewhat ineffective attempts to address the situation. In late April, I wrote about AGIMO:

“The Australian Government’s peak IT strategy agency is currently drowning in a sea of technocratic waffle that would do Sir Humphrey Appleby proud. It needs to take a step back and appoint a leader from the private sector to help it focus its efforts on a limited number of high-profile projects which would actually enhance government IT service delivery.”
So does the Australian Government need to make a ‘cloud-first’ declaration?”

In my view, there are a number of practical difficulties with such an idea. The first one is that the agency through which such a declaration should be made is AGIMO. But AGIMO is a little bit in the doghouse at the moment politically, with documents released in April showing that its political master, Special Minister of State Gary Gray, is concerned about AGIMO’s ability to deliver.

Secondly, there is the issue that AGIMO doesn’t really have a lot of power within the Federal Government anyway.

It is the chief information officers and secretaries of major government departments such as the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Defence and Customs that have most of the real power in terms of technology decision-making and implementation inside the Federal Government. And I’m sure if you told these CIOs that they should be thinking about the cloud first and on-premises deployments second, they would laugh at you and continue to spend their hundreds of millions of dollars in annual IT expenditure as they please.

There is also the point that most of these large government departments have recently been through huge IT rejuvenation projects of their core IT systems. They will be reluctant to look at major cloud projects at this point.

in my view, the really fertile field for the adoption of cloud computing will be in State Government, where state-level departments and agencies all around Australia are currently grappling with a systemic failure to deliver IT projects at any level. In this context, the implementation of cloud computing technologies has the potential to act as a circuit-breaker to change up the existing (failing) IT project delivery paradigm.

And indeed, we have seen precisely this kind of interest from the new crop of LNP/Coalition State Goevrnments recently. In NSW, we have the huge SAP Business ByDesign project kicked off by Trade & Investment, and in Queensland the state’s new LNP Technology Minister Ros Bates has been talking up the potential for cloud computing to solves some of its IT shared services woes. It’s in these kind of areas where I view cloud computing’s potential to be the strongest in the Australian public sector. Perhaps it will then percolate upwards into the Federal Government.

Wow, that was a longer post than I intended for a Friday afternoon ;)


  1. Look I think the main point is that we need to move on from fixating on the supposedly new risks of cloud services, and instead enable a pragmatic assessment of the tradeoffs involved in choosing between in-house ICT, shared services, traditional outsourcing, and cloud services. Each has benefits, risks, and issues.

    The challenge is how to assess the tradeoffs in the context of an individual agency’s circumstances to best balance innovation, long-run cost, and risk, within budget constraints. This is where AGIMO should focus, rather than producing yet another list of cloud risks and issues.

    As budget cuts bite the risks of so called “safe” in-house ICT rise so agencies will have an increasing imperative to weigh up the tradeoffs, and will need frameworks which create a balanced, rather than one-sided, view of benefits and risks.

  2. The primary rule for all government procurement is value for money. You can read about it here:

    Cloud is a different way of procuring IT. It has advantages and disadvantages. AGIMO uses it for, for example. Dictating a particular way of procuring, without the supporting analysis to determine value seems odd. Would a company dictate an “always lease first” policy? Would vendors be happy if government policy was “cheapest wins” or “only purchase through e-auctions”? Clearly, they would not.

    The Australian Government ICT procurement policy is “Value First”. That’s the only way to manage taxpayers’ money.

  3. It is always going to be difficult for a policy-making body to influence other parts of government (or any other organisation, for that matter) unless it also has (some) influence over implementation: especially financial, accounting, or other decision-making influence. With so many CIOs, and so many decision-making processes, it would be hard for anyone to do more than provide (persuasive) advice to their peers.

    This is perhaps a separate, but not entirely irrelevant, consideration from the content of that advice. If the AGIMOs brief is to direct ICT procurement policy and practice, one could expect a different style of statement on the matter from a body that is tasked with providing guidance or advice on the matter.

    In final analysis, it is not clear that government procurement drives innovation in anything but government procurement. Corporate entities offer a wider variety of services and products that may or may not be ‘innovative’ for various purposes. How innovative, and for which purposes they may be considered innovations, ought to be independent of whether (some) government agencies consider particular modes of delivery more or less advantageous.

    Data sovereignty is a significant issue. It is not trivial that *political* policy promulgated by the current government places that issue front-and-centre in ICT procurement policy and practice. If political masters direct that data not leave departmental control, it is perhaps a little unfair to criticise departments for complying with that direction.

    It is not fair or accurate to suggest that Commonwealth departments have not, or do not consider ‘cloud’ approaches to ICT service or infrastructure delivery. They have, and they do. Several departments operate significant services out of substantial ‘cloud’-style data centres. There is nothing magical about a corporate data centre that makes it any less a ‘cloud’-style system over one operated by government employees, or operated by corporate entities on behalf of a government agency on government-owned premesis, or government-owned equipment.

  4. Is this reallly a surprise ?

    We reward government agencies for not making the press and not making mistakes.

    We also allow them to build and maintain their separate and state / federal based empires, fuelled by ongoing ego’s, budgets and the end of the year frenzy to not underspend.

    The methods of Cloud use for achieving very significant benefits in terms of cost reduction across all aspects of IT are clearly documented.

    The US government models can be built on. European models are also advanced,as is their legislation on data sovereignty.

    These departments need some publicity driven motivation and I am glad to see it in this blog.

    It’s our taxes being squandered in this second rate enterprise architecture.

  5. Just proves how fucked politicians are, seriously..

    Between our main two choices we have “leaders” who can’t understand the benefits of cloud computing, who promote (or are vague in their supposed opposition to) net filtering and data retention or who, while the rest of the world (even those in much worse financial situations) willingly roll out FttP, want us to reuse obsolete copper because making Australia technologically competitive, may actually cost $ :/

  6. IMHO there appears to be a major confusion between virtualiastion technologies (sometimes referred to as cloud computing) and the procurement of IT as a service (sometimes referred to as cloud computing).

    If we look at these statements:.

    “The Federal Government has taken a “cloud-last” position on the adoption of the new generation of cloud computing technologies, analyst firm Ovum said today.”

    (Renai LeMay) “Organisations and governments in Australia and globally are currently grappling with cloud computing, which is a term covering a wide variety of technologies which have in common that they are purchased on a usage basis”

    (Renai LeMay) I have been a long-time critic of the Federal Government’s glacially slow adoption of cloud computing technologies

    In my view, they are all a load of rubbish.

    Federal government agency IT shops are full of virtualisation technologies. They just do it themselves. They also make a lot of use of shared services – where it works and where appropriate.

    Ovum and others are conflating procurement of technology with the technology itself..

    Steve Hodgkinson is correct when he says ” … there had been minimal adoption of cloud computing services by Federal Government agencies.” but only in the procurement sense.

    Industry providers of cloud technology services wanting to sell to the government have to compete with agencies that are already doing it themselves. It is a case of internal cloud technology against external cloud technology, it is not non-cloud versus cloud.

    Agency solutions will always be inherently more cost effective than industry when you factor in the cost of money to the government (it’s lower), the fact that private enterprise has to make a profit and contract management is expensive and constraining. The ANAO investigation into whole of government IT outsourcing went through all this years ago. Agency managers have longer memories than most IT vendors.

    My experience of Federal government IT departments is that they are as far along the virtualisation technology adoption track as anyone. Their use of these technologies is tailored to government requirements. Expecting a vendor to provide a virtualisation technology solution that fits the needs of many user groups, private and public, and to do it in a way that is better and cheaper than government IT departments can do it themselves is naive.

    John Sheridan is quite right (which is not surprising as he knows as much about government IT procurement as anyone) when he says that “The primary rule for all government procurement is value for money”. It’s also the only lever AGIMO has to work with. To think otherwise is to fail to understand how the Federal government works. And don’t blame the government. They work within the rules and laws that the people, through parliament have created. Understand this and you understand why the government does what it does.

    And just because overseas governments appear to be rushing along the external cloud service provider route, doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing for Australia to do.

  7. In response to John Sheridan:

    “Value first” is absolutely right John … the trouble is the “value” is largely in the eye of the beholder is it not? Some projects that appeared to offer good “value” have turned out not, in fact, to be good value at all due to technology failures and implementation risks etc. My recent report ‘Practical Steps to the Cloud for Government Agencies’ provides case studies of five Australian public sector organisations that each found significant value in cloud services – better functionality, faster implementation, value-for-money and (overall) lower risk compared to more traditional ICT procurement approaches.

    It is still early days in the evolution of cloud services but the evidence is compelling that mature enterprise-grade services can indeed offer value to government agencies in selected areas of functionality. Agency executives will make up their own minds about the value of cloud services compared to their other procurement options. I still think there is some benefit in an ICT strategy leadership position that challenges the status quo a little more directly in the interests of accelerating reform thinking … hence “cloud first” … but I understand your point that it seems odd to favour one way of buying ICT.

    Perhaps the essence of the argument is just about finding catalysts for accelerating procurement reform. Do we need to accelerate reform? Isn’t it a little disappointing that 18 months into implementation of the Government’s cloud strategy the only quotable example of cloud service adoption is a website hosted on Amazon? There must be others out there in agencies, but we need to make them visible as case studies/exemplars to boost awareness and organisational learning. My view is that a prudent hands-on give-it-a-go approach is essential to gain practical experience of the new procurement and management techniques … so if a period of “cloud first” can provide additional stimulus for early adoption then it would be useful …

  8. In response to Bernard Robertson-Dunn:

    You are right to stress the need to distinguish between “cloud technologies” and “cloud services” … I am very clear on this in my research … so I think there was some casual use of terms in Renai’s piece above.

    I see cloud technologies as simply the latest ICT technologies … of course agency IT departments will and should use them as they have been doing for many decades. This is nothing new … just the latest incremental evolution of hardware and software. If agencies have the money and skills to implement any ICT technology they should do so … and good luck to them! The agencies still need to make all of the difficult people+process transformations necessary to put them fully into practice.

    I was talking specifically about cloud services, which I see has a transformative innovation in ICT services. Mature enterprise IaaS, SaaS and PaaS offerings comprise pre-assembled and proven bundles of people+process+technology coupled with a new generation of customers who buy services in a more agile way and with different service expectations.

    It is important to understand that the productivity benefits of cloud services depend on the creation of a new provider/customer dynamic between the two actors: (1) A trustworthy cloud service provider, and (2) a customer who knows how to buy and use cloud services effectively to achieve better business outcomes. Proverbially, it takes two to tango.

    I really don’t agree with the premise that government can always do ICT less expensively than industry. I think if we look to the past that may have been true because outsourcing was really still about dedicated infrastructure and applications for an agency. With a dedicated investment then agencies could perhaps do it cheaper if they had the managerial wit and skills because they avoided the outsourcer’s profit margin etc. Also the long term deal structure tended not to produce good financial outcomes for agencies.

    This is not true for cloud services however due to the massive investments required and the fact that cloud services are shared services – with the cost of building and operating the service shared over large numbers of global or national customer.

    We shouldn’t underestimate the cost and difficulty of actually building and operating an enterprise-grade cloud service. Pooled standardised infrastructure resources, automated operations, secure multi-tenant architecture, a service catalogue, configurable services, SOA, iteratively evolving functionality, published APIs, self service provisioning, usage-based charging, transparent performance reporting, quality certification … plus all of the operations processes and skills to operate the service with high reliability, resilience and scalability.

    Hmmm … perhaps some of the largest agencies like the ATO, DHS and Defence might be capable of building private cloud services with these service characteristics … but the many mid-sized and small agencies could never do it because they just don’t have the money or the people. Even if they did it is virtually impossible for them to manufacture the new provider/customer dynamic of externally provided cloud services.

    In my case studies of early adopters, one of the big advantages of cloud services is that they sit outside the governance swamp of agencies. They are simply externally provided shared ICT services that provide services on a standardised, but somewhat congurable basis, as per their service catalogue. “Cloudy is as cloudy does”.

    In theory, the same service could be operated from within an agency as an in-house private cloud … but then it would be inside the swamp … and would become just another in-house shared ICT service … with all of the problems of under-funding, ageing assets, skills shortages, staff turnover, leadership churn, random changes in priorities and requirements and dysfunctional governance that all too often plague in-house shared services in government.

    So, to be clear, when I say ‘cloud services’ I mean externally provided public or private IaaS, SaaS or PaaS … not ‘cloud technologies’ and not in-house private cloud services within agencies.

    I see “cloud first” (notwithstanding John Sheridan’s objections) as a useful catalyst for changing both the supply and demand sides of the provider/customer dynamic – firstly, supporting the development of trustworthy cloud service providers in Australia, and secondly supporting the development of new more agile ICT buying behaviours by executives in agencies.

    • Steve, as you pointed out, my statement “Agency solutions will always be inherently more cost effective than industry….” is incorrect. I should not have used the word “always” and should have confined the scope to unique agency applications.

      Industry solutions that are aimed at many enterprises with common problems are likely to be very efficient and cost effective – economies of scale and standardisation play an important part.

      However, my questions, as always, is – how many agency applications fall into the common/standard categories?

  9. Steve, as the link in my earlier comment shows, ‘value for money’ is the overriding principle for all Australian Government procurement. The delegate for the procurement (a single person identified for each procurement) is the person who must judge that value for money is being achieved. I don’t see this as ‘trouble’; I describe it as accountability.

    As your report ( shows, there are other examples of cloud services being used by government: AMSA, AGIMO and DoHA at the Australian Government level, three NSW agencies, two in QLD, two in VIC and one in WA; and several local councils. There seems to be a shower of universities doing so too. I don’t find that too disappointing. I only used AGIMO to make the point that AGIMO isn’t avoiding the cloud. Indeed, we are currently assessing the more than 40 vendors who have applied for inclusion in our Data Centre as a Service Multi-Use List, offering over 1000 services between them. We are on track to open the list for agency business in October. I think it’s pretty catalytic – but I’m not disinterested in the outcome.

    This isn’t new. The Global Access Partners report from May 2011 (, published in collaboration with DBCDE, discusses work done by DIAC, ATO and DBCDE in the cloud (see page 51 for case studies).

    Overseas efforts have encountered a range of issues as part of their work. The US experience is reviewed by their equivalent of ANAO, the GAO, here:, and the UK’s progress is reported here:

    In summary, I think a balanced view would show that the Australian Government is well engaged on the ‘trip to the cloud’. We might not be progressing as fast as some would prefer, particularly some vendors, but, where the promise of the cloud is realised, I am confident we’ll find an appropriate place.

  10. One of the problems with cloud and government (or even in government business enterprises) is the stupid National Privacy Principles which require all personally identifying information to be stored on Australian servers. This cruels the whole potential of the cloud.

  11. There are many types of vendor, including:

    1. Those who create a market.
    2. Those who meet the needs of the market.
    3. Those who blame the market for not buying their products.

    I could be wrong, but Sydney sounds like he/she belongs to type three.

    I feel sorry for those in government who have to deal with such whingers.

    • I’m not a vendor… Just a government employee frustrated by the government’s backward approach to the use of innovative cloud services.

  12. re: ‘the really fertile field for the adoption of cloud computing will be in State Government, where state-level departments and agencies all around Australia are currently grappling with a systemic failure to deliver IT projects at any level. ‘
    Duck! Here comes another vendor’s silver bullet! For anyone that’s spent more than ten minutes in any state government IT shop, the idea that this will fix ‘systemic failure’ is ludicrous. Projects don’t fail because they’re not ‘cloud’ and ‘cloud’ can’t fix project failures. Leadership, accountability, project management and change management fix project failures and sadly you won’t find much of that in state government.

  13. In response to James M,

    Yes … as I observed in my original comment and Renai noted above, the opportunities of cloud services will be most compelling at state government level. I have written extensively about this in my Ovum research reports for several years, commenting on the increasing crisis of confidence in ICT capabilities and need for a rethink about procurement models (think agile) and executive accountability for ICT-enabled business transformation projects … for example:

    Basically, the worse of a mess your ICT capabilities are in the more compelling is the argument for cloud services as an alternative to in-house ICT applications and infrastructure … so in one sense state governments are perfectly primed for cloud adoption! ;-)

    The “silver bullet” challenge is starting to be discussed more these days – my take on this is explained here:

    I am more optimistic about this generation of technology innovation because mature enterprise-grade cloud services radically externalise a bundle of people+process+technology enabled shared services … that actually work. The radical arms-length character sounds like a problem (can’t customise to meet government’s “special requirements”) … but in practice turns out to be a big advantage (insulates the core of the service from being mucked about by poorly governed and managed demands for unnecessary and ad hoc customisations … while still enabling sufficient configuration for the service to be relevant and useful).

    The point is that cloud services are an organisational innovation – they take a chunk of the IT organisation (people+process+technology) and remove it from government’s grasp by placing it within a large-scale shared service entity. The agency is then left being a consumer and orchestrator of a suite of standardised services that are functional, sustainable and affordable.

    It can and does work – as my case studies reveal. Not for all agencies, nor all applications, nor all workloads/data … but definitely for some. One of the problems is that folks tend to get carried away with cycling through irrational exuberance (Toad of Toad Hall = cloud services are the wonderful shiny new thing, the “silver bullet”, the answer to all our problems!) and grumpy angst (Chicken Little = the sky is falling! Cloud services are evil, immoral and dangerous!).

    As a technology innovation, cloud computing is just the latest way of doing ICT if you have the managerial wit, skills and money to do ICT in-house. As an organisational innovation, however, cloud services offer a better way forward for agencies that have discovered over the past decade that they have unsolvable challenges in the areas of managerial wit, skills and money ;-)

  14. In response to John Sheridan:

    Hmmm … yes OK John … “cloud last” is pretty harsh … perhaps AGIMO’s stance is best described as “cloud when we, and it, are ready” … which is no bad thing.

    My comments on this have sparked quite a few off-line conversations which I’ve found quite interesting … so it is worth looping back around this topic. A counter argument to “cloud first” that some folks have raised is that it just causes a lot of counter-productive, overly simplistic, thinking and activity … cloud as the universal silver bullet etc. The result will be disappointment vs. unrealistic expectations and an over-reaction against cloud services … which to some degree may be the US experience. Perhaps it is a “tortoise vs. hare” situation … slow and steady might be the better race tactic.

    I missed the GAO’s assessment of the US Cloud First strategy, so thanks for alerting me to that. Their conclusions are interesting … “agencies are facing a series of challenges as they implement cloud solutions” … which is to be expected … further, that “recent guidance and initiatives may help to mitigate the impact of these challenges … and help agencies assess their readiness to implement cloud-based solutions and guide their implementation.” GAO also made comments around the need for better planning and business case guidance for migration of legacy apps into cloud services and retirement of the old systems. The GAO report analysed around 20 major cloud services projects in 7 agencies and I suppose one could argue that this level of activity is good in terms of organizational learning and acceleration of innovation … the US government would not be as far ahead in its cloud thinking without this stimulation of hands-on activity and demand for better policies and frameworks.

    I’m still puzzling over the merits of “cloud first” as a catalyst for action … even though when taken literally it seems a bit odd … so I’m coming round to your point of view a bit for the federal government. In the US I suppose you can say that some of the action has been a bit ‘inefficient’ … but I can’t help thinking that Kundra was right to “kick the hornets nest” just to shake things up and give everyone some cloud procurement experience sooner rather than later. At least this has given some strong impetus and reality to the policy and standards development activity … which could otherwise have been rather theoretical. One can also argue that the strategy has stimulated significant investment and development of fit-for-government cloud services capacity by US vendors – which is a good result for the US ICT industry. A number of companies like Salesforce have implemented dedicated G-Cloud services for government … so there is also a “which comes first the Chicken or the egg … demand or supply” aspect of “cloud first”. Demand leadership can stimulate supply that otherwise wouldn’t have emerged until much later.

    In the end, of course, it is all about what works … and what is needed … for an individual jurisdiction rather than there being a one-size-fits-all strategy. NZ and Australia are totally different economies and have different challenges of scale etc. Economic imperatives give the Kiwis a stronger motivation to grasp the “cloud first” nettle.

  15. Thanks Steve

    I welcome your comments and thoughts. I think they demonstrate the value of social media as a means of intelligent discourse and the open exchange of ideas – a far cry (and welcome change) from some of the other, less desirable, uses of social media we see regularly.

    Renai – it’s your turn now. I’m looking forward to reading the new headline “Australian Government has the right cloud policy, says Ovum’.

    • heh I’m not quite sure that headline would sum up the nuances of this conversation ;) I have been watching closely but haven’t quite had the time to comment myself yet — busy week! However, I hope to post some follow-up thoughts at some point.

  16. As someone who works in State Government, the problem appears (at least to me) is that the bureaucrats that control the money are unwilling to invest in anything they see as “different”. If they’re being naturally risk averse, that’s completely understandable, but cloud technologies are not in their infancy anymore, and are a viable, even necessary, for organisations like our governments that go through major shakeups at the end of each election cycle.

    It’s unfortunate that the common view (at least in my workplace) is that cloud technology is still a “new fad”. Even amongst a lot of IT staff. It’s been an uphill battle for front line engineers such as myself to demonstrate the benefits of this methodology if you’re seen to be “beating the drum” for it, rather than positing the solution they are looking for.

    What my workplace doesn’t get, is that in order for cloud computing to work (and work well), is that they need to commit to it as a platform. That doesn’t mean transferring everyone to it, rather, it means committing to it with both skills and money to develop their own robust cloud solution instead of attempting to cobble varying technologies together for bottom dollar. “You get what you pay for” might be a cliched saying, but it’s doubly true when it comes to the cloud technologies today. If you decide to commit to it, it can be close to what the hype makes it out to be. But unfortunately, due to the government’s risk averse nature, all they will get is a half built solution that becomes an anchor, rather than a ship.

    Until government CIO’s see this methodology as a business enabler, rather than “a new thing”, they’re just not going to “get” cloud technologies.

  17. Here is an updated position on this discussion …

    Our opinion piece published earlier this month – ” ‘Cloud-first’ ICT policy is better for government than ‘cloud last’ ” – caused quite a bit of debate about the merits of a “cloud-first” ICT policy position for governments. Some executives view it as counter-productive, because it raises unrealistic expectations and leads to activity that may be viewed as inefficient and poorly planned (in traditional ICT procurement and waterfall project terms). Others, however, appreciate the power of “cloud first” as a challenge to the ICT status quo, as it raises expectations of faster and less risky projects, better solutions, and reduced costs. In essence, the value of “cloud first” is that it authorizes and even requires agency executives to look beyond the constraints of current ICT procurement practices and to ask the question: “is there a better, more agile way to use ICT to achieve our policy and service delivery outcomes?”

    The value of “cloud first,” however, is only apparent if one first opens one’s eyes to the reality of the challenges in the status quo, and the fact that we really do need to accelerate the introduction of a fresh approach to ICT in government.

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