The Coalition would continue the cloud computing strategy of the current Government should it come to power in the federal election, with Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull signalling an intent to push more heavily towards an “aggressive” take up of cloud computing services.
The Labor Government in May announced its National Cloud Computing Strategy, which “required” government agencies to consider public cloud services first for new IT procurements.
It promoted the "informed" adoption of public cloud as a way to improve service delivery and lower costs, and tasked the Department of Finance and the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) with drafting guidance by the end of 2013.
"Government agencies will choose cloud services, where the service represents the best value for money and adequate management of risk, compared to other available options," the strategy states.
Turnbull told iTnews he would like to see the progress towards a cloud first strategy being greater and the take up of it “more aggressive”.
“We think a strong cloud first strategy has a great deal to commend it,” he said.
“The cost savings and efficiencies occasioned by the use of cloud services are so formidable and so well understood and proven, and much further advanced in the consumer space than in the enterprise space.”
He declined to provide detail on the Coalition’s cloud procurement policy, which is expected to be released before the federal election in three weeks time.
One of the main criticisms of the Government’s cloud strategy is how the requirement to ‘consider’ cloud services will be enforced. The Government has declined to comment how it will do so until AGIMO’s draft guidance is released.
Turnbull similarly declined to provide detail on how he would enforce such a requirement, but said in “large part it’s about providing the right type of incentives and leadership”.
When questioned on the benefits of mandating a certain type of technology as opposed to what constituted a good business case, Turnbull said government agencies needed a bit of a push to overcome their “natural box-hugging tendencies” and desire to “maintain their own internal IT infrastructure”.
“Government has been slow moving, no doubt because of the lack of competition - there’s not much pressure to cut costs - and I think there are also anxieties and delusions that bespoke solutions and variations are needed when they aren’t,” he told iTnews.
“There is a sense some people in government have an exaggerated concern about security risks in the cloud. If you have 100 businesses and agencies using one cloud service, that cloud service is going to be able to afford much better security and sophisticated systems than any of these individual enterprises.
“There’s a little bit of naivety sometimes about security, the idea that your data is safest sitting on a server in the office is probably not right.”
The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy declined to comment on whether the drafted cloud procurement guidelines would be available before the September election, but recently said the release of new policy and guidelines was “imminent”.
In early July the Attorney-General's Department announced government CIOs hoping to store sensitive data in a public cloud would need the approval of two ministers.
Publically available unclassified information is allowed to be stored in a public cloud, either onshore of offshore, following risk assessment, but sensitive or personal information will need to get the go-ahead from an agency’s portfolio minister as well as the Attorney-General before being stored in a public cloud.
A public cloud arrangement for classified information has been ruled out entirely.