DFAT probes protected Microsoft cloud

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DFAT probes protected Microsoft cloud

Follows DTA’s footsteps.

The first major federal government agency is set to begin testing Microsoft’s protected-level public cloud service.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is progressing a program of work that will see it adopt secure cloud services in the form of a protected-level Office 365 environment.

It has already established an Office 365 tenancy to consume office productivity services such as email and web browsing, and is now appealing to the market for a provider to help it on its way.

“DFAT is implementing Microsoft cloud services at the protected security classification and requires the services of a suitably qualified and experiencing service provider who has performed this task for other government agencies,” it said in a brief on the digital marketplace.

The call follows an earlier brief from the department requesting a provider to ensure the department’s compliance with government cyber security guidance and policies relating to Microsoft cloud offerings.

Agencies were told to use additional security controls before committing workloads to the protected-level Azure and Office 365 cloud services, following their certification from the Australian Signals Directorate last April.

The 6000-strong agency is the first large-scale government agencies to publically disclose its intentions to shift to the protected-level email and collaboration platform.

It one of some 50 government agencies in Canberra understood to be considering the adoption of protected-level Microsoft cloud having been shown the way by the Digital Transformation Agency.

The IT policy and procurement lead became the first government agency to begin processing the deployment of Office 365 across its Canberra and Sydney offices in August this year.

It has already successfully piloted the platform with staff, and expects the full rollout to be complete this month.

The development was widely seen as the necessary proof to pave the way for Azure and Office 365 to spread quickly in Canberra.

But, as one of the APS' smallest agencies, the platform will ultimately be limited to use by around 200 people.

At DFAT, Office 365 could be used by some 6000 staff, more than half of which are locate overseas – possibly why email and collaboration platform is so enticing.

The platform could even reduce the transmission and exchange of data to 174 global sites through the department's International Communications Network (ICN), which has replaced the Secure Australian Telecommunications and Information Network (SATIN).

However it is unlikely to have any bearing on the transmission and exchange top secret data worldwide.

The work is currently in the beta phase and will require the successful provider to “achieve secure connectivity and accreditation”, working closely with both DFAT’s information management and technology division and partners like Microsoft.

A spokesperson wouldn’t comment on whether Office 356 was the only Microsoft solution the department is progressing, only saying it was “exploring a number of cloud service offerings with the intention of having a hybrid cloud solution at some point in the future”.

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