Qld Govt's first cloud pilot falls behind schedule

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Qld Govt's first cloud pilot falls behind schedule

High-profile email project misses minister's deadline.

Queensland's IT department has fallen behind in its attempt to lead a state government charge towards public cloud services, failing to get its long-touted email project up and running on time.

In May 2013 Queensland's IT minister Ian Walker said his department would "take a lead role in the adoption of cloud services and I expect [the Department of Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts] will be fully transitioned to cloud email by the end of this year.”

The LNP government had been advocating for cloud messaging services since early on in its term, positioning products like Gmail and Microsoft 365 as wise alternatives to Labor’s failed $46 million Identity, Directory and Email Services (IDES) program.

But DSITIA is still a way off having a new solution operating across its workforce. It has yet to complete contract negotiations for two cloud collaboration panels – one for public cloud services and one strictly onshore only –  from which a vendor will be chosen.

“A number of DSITIA business units are using cloud email to test the product in a low risk environment while a whole of government purchasing arrangement is established," a spokeswoman for the department said.

“When the contractual arrangements are in place, full migration will be undertaken. Contract negotiations will commence with the selected suppliers over the coming weeks."

The transition to a single cloud-based email platform is the first stage in the department’s broader ‘digital communications and collaboration’ project.

The $3.4 million initiative includes the implementation of new email, collaboration and instant messaging tools, plus the replacement of ageing Microsoft Office suites across the department, which is still running the 2003 version in some instances.

It is due to be fully rolled out by December 2014, but has attracted an ‘amber’ warning rating on the government’s IT dashboard because the state is at risk of breaching this deadline as well.

The concerns have been attributed to “a number of identified risks/issues that require mitigation likely to impact timeframes”.

Walker’s office advised iTnews that the price tag covers “the total cost of ownership over the life of the initiative for DSITIA,” including “all internal salaries and licensing or capital expenditure”.

In the months since Walker's May announcement that Queensland would adopt a 'cloud-first' policy akin to government's in the UK and US, industry and agencies have still not seen details fleshed out in a cloud and ICT-as-a-service policy document.

According the government's IT action plan, the policy was due in November 2013, with guidelines for hosting information offshore due in December 2013.

Late last year the minister's office advised that the documents were still "in the design phase".

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