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Governments jump at Telstra Cloud talks

45-day free trials, consultation with Accenture used to push Cloud in Canberra

Departments at all levels of government have jumped at the chance to consult and trial Telstra’s Cloud infrastructure this week, with up to 10 individual agencies identified as potential clients by the telco.

In the latest effort by a Cloud provider to get its foot in a typically heavy door, Telstra this week announced a free 45-day trial of its infrastructure, internally named ‘Silver Lining’, to local, state and federal government departments ready to migrate specific applications.

Departments were also offered the chance to consult with both Telstra and Cloud marketing partner Accenture as to how the infrastructure could be utilised for individual applications and requirements.

Account managers in Telstra’s Enterprise and Government division have been consulting with department leads on the opportunity for the past week, but the telco used a two-day Cloud computing forum in Canberra to extend the opportunity to all departments in hopes of growing the potential market.

Mark Pratley, general manager of Telstra’s Cloud computing services division, told Computerworld Australia the initial reception by relevant heads had been largely positive following his keynote presentation at the forum on Wednesday.

“The government is asking the right questions of providers like us,” he said. “We think that it’s the right time to provide access to the model we’ve got, a commercial model and how it works, to be able to investigate whether that’s a particular fit for their department or service.”

Telstra will initially limit the number of government departments able to utilise the free trial to prevent “unlimited jumping” on the service provider’s infrastructure, but Pratley said it would re-evaluate those limits should there be enough demand.

He said the infrastructure was more than capable of handling the trial for the biggest Australian government departments - including Defence, Health, Human Services and the Australian Tax Office - simultaneously, provided the trial was staged.

“They need to be moving an application that suits that environment - not every Cloud is the same,” he said.

However, according to Pratley, most government departments expressed greater interest in the consultation aspect of Telstra’s Cloud move.

Building on a three-year partnership signed with Accenture last October, Telstra will participate in sit-down discussions with departments to consult on the application of the Cloud infrastructure to each agency’s specific needs. In return, the telco hopes to gather more information on the types of applications and services desired by customers.

The ‘Silver Lining’ infrastructure, separate from the telco’s T-Suite offerings to small businesses, has so far been provided as an effective blank slate for potential clients such as Komatsu and at least five others to migrate network-centric applications.

Telstra also intends to migrate its own internal applications to the platform but is yet to offer specific application and services hosting to enterprises.

“I think the spark for this two-day workshop is to figure out if there is a common set of applications or services that they would like,” Pratley said. “What we’re looking for is to evaluate what is the low-hanging fruit, what do we want to solve now.

"If we put it in the wrong order and take it out we essentially haven’t listened to their needs.”

Telstra’s offering is the culmination of years of discussions with government agencies on possible migration to a Cloud environment following Gershon’s review of government IT efficiencies and procurement. The telco also follows behind a growing list of Cloud providers intent on breaking into the government market, including Salesforce.com and Microsoft.

Brisbane City Council recently became one of the pioneers of Cloud adoption through its use of a Microsoft Windows Azure-based application, though the South Australian Government has also voiced intentions to implement Cloud migration strategies.

A draft Cloud strategy framework released by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) suggested eventual moves to a public Cloud environment within a decade.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

More about: Accenture, Brisbane City Council, etwork, Federal Government, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, South Australian Government, Telstra
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