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Immigration department CIO talks cloud computing

Believes it could ‘work for most of the public service’

The federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is considering using cloud computing solutions in its electronic lodgement visa system.

DIAC CIO, Bob Correll, spoke at the Technology Partners International Sourcing Leadership Exchange in Sydney this week and outlined the implementation of DIAC's ‘system's for people’ project.

“The concept is pretty much what we’ve done; we’ve built a number of portals that have surrounded those legacy portals and our final release, release 12, is due in August," he said.

Correll indicated cloud computing could be the next step in the department's electronic visa system.

"For electronic lodgement, you can see why the attraction of cloud computing is there," he said.

Correll said several issues needed to be addressed before cloud technology could be implemented across the organisation, but said once resolved, cloud strategies could be applied across government as a viable solution.

"The issue is working out how to use cloud computing in a secure and private way," he said.

"We’d need to work out what's the right physical proximity to the service. Should it be central to the organisation or should we have distributed centres?

"If it could work for the Immigration department, it would be true that it could work for most of the public service. So this will be an interesting concept going into the future," he said.

Cloud computing may alter the costs of implementing projects throughout government if security issues are resolved, according to Correll.

"Cloud is very exciting and should provide a massive difference in the cost structure and I guess that's what drove our initial idea. Also, what we're finding is that all the functionality you need is in cloud and it certainly gives us massive opportunities in terms of infrastructure," he said.

Correll began work at the department in mid-2005 when most of the changes to the DIAC started. He discussed how the department's visa system had been upgraded since the enquiry into the Cornelia Rau debacle of 2005.

"In 2005 there was a very dramatic development and it resulted in some of the most dramatic changes to the department.

"Immigration is a very risky business, especially in policy setting. Policy setting impacts long-term on the lives of people. The ramifications can be very serious. We had two objectives: The first was changing values in the organisation and the second was addressing the business process," Correll said.

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