Feds moderate cloud policy guide

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Feds moderate cloud policy guide

Becomes 'first step' to greater cloud use.

The Federal Government's central procurement office has retreated from prescribing cloud applications for low-risk, low-value projects and pilots in its final policy paper on cloud services, following concerns about its overly conservative stance to such services.

The Australian Government Information Management Office's (AGIMO) earlier draft strategy last month proposed that departments take a “sensible approach” to cloud service that would target low-risk projects.

However, in its final version, released today, AGIMO replaced this wording with the more nuanced “first step” toward greater government use of cloud services and applications.

The move ensures the guidance is consistent with its earlier strategic paper issued in April last year (pdf), which proposed agencies could determine the adequacy of cloud services through a two-fold test of value for money and security.

Other changes in the final policy are more symbolic but remain significant.

For example, the policy’s title is no longer a “strategic approach” but a "guide to implementing cloud services".

This will reduce industry and agency confusion with strategic direction, deferring such strategy instead to the April 2011 paper.

The final document also appears to have reduced the option of using a new multi-user list (MUL) for data-centre-as-a-service vendors as an entry point for longer term contracts.

The guidance that “agencies may also use the DCaaS MUL to identify potential suppliers for longer term tenders" is no longer available in the final paper.

The availability of that multi-use list also appears to have slipped slightly from October to November this year.

While a formal comparison between the two versions of the paper suggests 140 deletions and 118 insertions, in practice the only substantive addition concerns an elaboration on how agencies are expected to determine the total cost of ownership of existing systems against the offerings of a cloud provider.

It states that where that total cost cannot be determined due to a lack of data, a cost comparison of known costs may be sufficient to compare solutions.

“The business case should always attempt to compare like-for-like costs, and clearly identify where this is not the case, and where any assumptions have been made”, it added.

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