NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud


blog It’s not often that Delimiter covers news from across the ditch, but given the current debate about the uptake of cloud computing in Australia, I thought this one worth mentioning. The country’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service. The full media release (and there’s more information here)

A new all-of-government office productivity software service will help agencies streamline their support systems as they focus on transforming their customer services, says Government Chief Information Officer, Colin MacDonald.

The contract for Office Productivity as a Service (OPaaS) has been awarded to New Zealand company Datacom which will initially supply email and calendar services, including archiving and data loss prevention, to government agencies. Other services to be rolled out include file-sharing, mobility services, instant messaging and collaboration services.

“OPaaS is the third building block in a suite of services designed to standardise and simplify ICT management in government agencies, help them work together, and make them more efficient and effective,” he says.

“OPaaS will be hosted in the cloud so agencies will always have access to the newest and most secure software without the need to manage these applications themselves. Agencies only pay for what they need, when they need it, without the need to own and maintain their own infrastructure. This saves money and frees agencies up to focus on creating the services customers want and expect,” Mr MacDonald says.

The new service complements two recently released cloud products, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Enterprise Content Management as a Service (ECMS). Mr MacDonald says the products are significant steps in improving and simplifying the government’s approach to ICT management within agencies, in line with the goals of the Government ICT Strategy and Action Plan to 2017 announced a year ago.

“This is all part of the government’s drive to achieve ICT-enabled better public services.” Internal Affairs worked with Department of Conservation, NZ Transport Agency, NZ Qualifications Authority and Ministry for Primary Industries to develop the OPaaS offering.

The news is interesting in the Australian context because, despite the fact that our State Governments are pushing hard into cloud computing, along very similar lines as in New Zealand, we haven’t really seen the same strong push in the Federal Government. The most recent move in this space in Canberra has been the GovCMS cloud computing initiative for government websites.


  1. “This saves money”, the ever present throw away line of all cloud computing proponents without any actual and substantiated data to prove it.

    I’ve done the TCO on cloud versus in-house for a number of large enterprise companies, and the answer always comes back the same. It’s cheaper to do it in-house. Small business to micro business definitley has an advantage. But not for the corporates and I suspect not for government either.

    • Hmmm … well my grip on this is that “cloud computing” (i.e. technologies like virtualization, SOA, APIs, automation, self-service portals, consumption-based billing etc.) do save money … of course they do because they are simply the latest evolution of how to ‘do’ ICT … so as long as they are implemented by experienced and rational ICT professionals. Cloud computing is just the latest and best set of tools from Bunnings for DIY ICT.

      Cloud services, on the other hand, are a form of outsourced service that may or may not ‘save money’ … depending on what the alternatives are and how the ‘savings’ are calculated. ‘Saving money’ is a complex discussion of TCO, apples and oranges and ‘Game of Thrones’ style corporate politics, personalities and business case magic tricks.

      One thing cloud services can definitely do, however, is act as a catalyst for innovation in organizations where the ICT status quo is performing poorly despite decades of effort and millions of $ spent to ‘fix ICT’. Maybe there are times when it is better to give up trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear when you can just go out and buy a silk purse?

  2. The thing the NZ government is struggling with is that the requirement for hosting data onshore means that the market of government-ready as-a-service solutions is very limited … indeed non-existent. This means they have had to pump-prime the market by using government demand to stimulate the development of on-shore as-a-services solutions … like the IaaS panel. These solutions necessarily fail the “cloud is as cloudy does” test, and are more in the character of start-up as-a-service offerings which have yet to prove their operational credentials.

    This is just the reality of the situation but it exposes the series of pragmatic risk management trade-offs that governments face. On the one hand, public cloud services are proven to work well for particular use cases but are not onshore in NZ so therefore have risks (many of which are still largely theoretical). On the other hand, onshore cloud services are … well onshore … but are not yet actually proven to work and so have real implementation risks. Maybe they will work well (fingers crossed) or maybe they wont.

    The government is hoping that its demand will stimulate the development of robust local cloud services which are a policy win-win (government productivity and local ICT industry development). This is a good plan, but needs to be backed up by a strong commitment for agencies to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ otherwise the strategic OPaaS, DaaS and ECMS solutions will just be white elephants that are overtaken by their more nimble and aggressive off-shore public cloud competitors … who always have the option to come onshore whenever the business case for a local DC stacks up.

    • I am pessimistic about NZ’s ability to force or otherwise encourage their public sector onto their sanctioned cloud platforms and services. Programs that rely more upon coercion, hype or champion leaders than firm baseline value propositions are on shaky ground. Sooner rather than later, the ‘data onshore’ mantra will dissipate and agencies will be free to participate in the only multi-tenancy platforms that matter — global ones.

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