blog One could be forgiven for thinking that the word “cloud computing” is in vogue in Australian Governments at the moment. The NSW Government is pushing hard into the cloud, the Victorian Government has shown signs of doing the same, and even Queensland is thinking about getting into the act. The Federal Government, of course, already had a cloud computing policy courtesy of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), but now it also has a National Cloud Computing Strategy (see the full document here), as released by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy at CeBIT in Sydney this week, and put together by (yet another) expert panel. Conroy tells us:
“The strategy will: Open up the Australian Government’s annual $5 billion a year spend on ICT to cloud computing by requiring federal government agencies to consider cloud services for new information technology purchases; Promote the benefits of cloud computing to small businesses, not-for-profit organisations and local governmen; [and] support a vibrant cloud services sector through competition, a highly capable technology workforce, and regulatory settings that promote growth and foster innovation.”
Coincident with the release of the strategy, AGIMO itself has released a new version of its existing Cloud Computing Policy; which we assume will recognise Conroy’s stipulation that government departments and agencies will now be required to consider cloud computing options during procurement. Australian Government chief information officer Glenn Archer notes:
“The update recognises that the cloud market in Australia has matured significantly in the last two years, and that there are now clearly opportunities for Government to make use of Cloud to achieve savings, greater agility and better business outcomes for its own IT needs and those that service the needs of citizens and businesses that interact with Government.”
Not everyone has been as enthusiastic as the Government could perhaps have hoped about the strategy; iTNews described Conroy’s release as a “National Fog Strategy”, describing it as a “weightless, immaterial piece of fluffy nonsense”. However, Steve Hodgkinson, the director of Ovum’s Government practice in Australia and New Zealand, has taken a somewhat more positive view of events, in a blog post published overnight:
“The Australian government has finally embraced cloud services as a critical element of the digital economy by releasing a National Cloud Computing Strategy. While not quite “cloud first”, the strategy creates an explicit requirement for agencies to consider cloud services for new ICT procurements, test and development activity, and to migrate existing websites to cloud services at natural refresh points. When combined with a range of other measures, this represents a significant step forward in the modernisation of the government’s thinking and approach to ICT industry development and to its own procurement and use of ICT.:
I haven’t yet been through all of the material released by Conroy and AGIMO over the past week. However, it is good to see the Government focusing on this area explicitly, as Hodgkinson notes. I have no doubt that there are fluffy aspects of both the policy and strategy, as iTNews wrote, but I also know that it can take a while for these kinds of concepts to sink a bit deeper into the public service. It will be interesting to see what comes of these releases over the next 12 months.