The Australian Government is ready to adopt cloud computing services for a wide variety of agency applications, according to its foremost IT policy-maker Glenn Archer, but some maturity is required on the part of global providers.
The Government's cloud computing strategy allows "agencies to choose cloud-based services where they demonstrate value for money and adequate security," said Archer, first assistant secretary, policy and planning at Department of Finance and Deregulation and the architect of the Government's cloud computing strategy at the CeBIT conference today.
Archer said that data sovereignty concerns did not come into play across many workloads governments are burdened with.
"Yes, yes we'll get to [running citizen-information centric apps in the public cloud] one day," he said. "We don't have to [immediately] go to that problem area."
A standard Government web site, he said, was a "perfectly appropriate application" for cloud computing.
Finance's data.gov.au, he noted, used cloud storage hosted offshore.
The Government would move more data into the cloud as processes mature, he said. But for now, there are "a few areas where more needs to be done."
He raised availability and security as two key issues.
With cloaked references to recent cloud outages at the likes of Amazon.com and Microsoft BPOS, Archer said he "used to think the issue of availability in the cloud was a significant advantage".
"As a former CIO I can tell you it is incredibly hard to build high availabiilty services in large organisations. This is really, really hard stuff, I think you would hear that if you ask our friends in the banking community.
"My assumption was that given the business model, brand and reputation [of cloud computing providers] depends on availability, they might be doing a better job.
"It has been slightly sullied of late - that's on the watchlist at the moment."
Some questions also have to be answered on the security front, he noted.
He referred to his own experience as being father to a son that used his credit card to transact on the hacked Playstation Online network.
Archer remarked that "cloud vendors have quite some way to go to live up to the claims in their marketing material."