Australian policy makers need to explain the benefits of cloud services clearly if state and federal government adoption is to improve, according to Ovum Australia's research director, Steve Hodgkinson.
Hodgkinson said that government cloud service policies tend to be biased towards avoiding errors, such as the risk of buying a bad service, or persisting with a bad in-house service.
“This can create worse outcomes, leading to missed or delayed opportunities for productivity improvement and innovation in policy or service delivery,” he said in a statement.
According to Hodgkinson, there are some steps policy makers can take to improve cloud services adoption.
“The risk of procuring a bad cloud service is relatively low and can be contained by well-established risk-management mechanisms and shorter contract terms,” he said.
In addition, the policy should not refer to the cloud but to a cloud service, something that is delivered on a professional basis by a trustworthy external provider.
Hodgkinson also urged policy makers to explain the difference between cloud computing and cloud services. He defined cloud computing as the suite of technology innovations, including scalable infrastructure, virtualization, automation and self-service provisioning portals.
“A cloud service is an established bundle of processes, people, organisation and technology which has been assembled to deliver a well-defined shared service to many customers."
According to Hodgkinson, cloud service policy documents tend to be long on theoretical positions and short on real examples.
“The first task for anyone charged with developing a cloud services policy should be to research and publish 10 to 20 examples of early cloud services adoption experiences within the relevant jurisdiction,” he said.
In November 2012, Hodgkinson criticised federal and state government agencies in Australia for not recognising cloud computing’s role in the digital economy.
While the Australian federal government has been busy developing the digital economy and the NBN rollout, he said that it has treated cloud services with “deep suspicion”.
“AGIMO has pursued the inward-looking tactical agenda of procurement efficiency dealt it by Sir Peter Gershon’s 2008 review and when it comes to cloud services, AGIMO has come to be regarded as the man required to walk in front of the first motor car waving a red flag.”
According to Hodgkinson, AGIMO’s focus has been on creating risk-oriented policy documents and procurement controls for cloud services on the assumption that the cloud is “more dangerous” than traditional approaches to sourcing ICT capabilities.
However, in April this year AGIMO assistant secretary Mundi Tomlinson wrote on the AGIMO blog that the Data Centre Facilities Panel does not prevent an agency from adopting cloud (as a service) arrangements or from securing a third-party provider to provide their overarching ICT requirements.
“The proposed new arrangements may offer agencies the flexibility to plan for and implement changes in technology. As an example, agencies considering moving their data to the cloud will be able to enter arrangements that would accommodate a transition to the cloud/cloud-like services,” she said.
In February, AGIMO announced that it had added 14 suppliers to provide cloud services to multiple government agencies.
The government’s data centre as a service (DCaaS) Multi Use List was published on the AGIMO website in October last year.
The cloud services available through this list include software as a service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings. They cover virtual desktops and servers, disaster recovery and managed backups, e-tending packages and online collaboration tools.
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