The Federal Government's updated cloud computing strategy guide has been welcomed by one analyst, but criticised as "not strategic" enough for future considerations.
The draft cloud implementation guide, released by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) last week, encouraged agencies to adopt public cloud-based services for public-facing “unclassified” government information, and to undertake proof of concept studies so that agencies could “fully understand” the risks of cloud computing.
The paper follows moves to establish a coherent whole-of-government cloud strategy by the Government's central procurement agency last year.
However, Ovum public sector research director Kevin Noonan said the document was not strategic, as it did not address cloud service's implications for Government agencies.
The paper, he said, timidly appreciated the notion there were many on-shore cloud providers in Australia but appeared to devolve cloud strategy to individual Government agencies.
"Agencies should develop a coordinated approach to cloud-based services as an integral component of their ICT strategy and roadmap," the strategy stated.
Noonan applauded the draft paper for moving beyond the “cloud is hype” stage.
But the draft also projected mixed feelings about cloud as exotic and requiring special care in security, procurement and legal attention over and above other similarly sized IT projects and procurements.
Cloud-based services offered "their own unique opportunities, complexities and risks", according to the strategy.
Noonan noted the paper's departure from a US-style “cloud first” strategy (pdf) and the UK Government's commitment to adopting cloud as a basis of for its common infrastructure issued in 2011.
“The Government does not buy buildings any more, or cars, or many other capital intensive infrastructures," he said.
"Cloud offers the basis for moving from a risk-intensive capital expenditure approach to a more flexible and scalable though risk-based operational expenditure approach."
The guide described the cloud as a “new delivery model” and that the “sensible approach” was to use the cloud to target low risk, low-value applications or pilots from which the organisation can measure actual costs and benefits, gain insights and draw lessons for future endeavours.
However, AGIMO also intends 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”.
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