German software giant SAP is investing $150 million in a dedicated Centre for Digital Government in Canberra. This centre, to be operational by mid-2015, will be fully integrated with hosted private cloud services.
The centre’s launch coincides with the attendance of German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel, at this week's G20 summit in Brisbane. This initiative further consolidates SAP’s established footprint across federal, state and local government.
Among the participating organisations, the Department of Human Services has weighed in behind the project. The department is one of 50 core federal agencies that already utilise SAP services.
Minister for human services, Marise Payne, welcomed SAP’s commitment to building the institute and levering its global expertise. “This will help social services agencies around the world share experiences, ideas and innovation,” she said.
When fully operational the institute will deliver SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud via a data centre in Canberra.
SAP’s president and managing director, Andrew Barkla, said that government agencies have recognised the need to adapt services for socially engaged and increasingly mobile citizens. The Canberra initiative will deliver more value to citizens and "redefine the digital experience," he said.
Damien Bueno, SAP’s general manager for federal government and defence services, told CIO that "a private cloud will enable subscriber agencies to tackle data sovereignty, privacy and security concerns."
Fully integrated cloud and digital platforms simplify the running of ICT infrastructure, allow agencies to better manage back-office functions, and scale up as demands change across portfolio agencies, he said.
“This digital institute is a construct that supports the sharing of ideas, concepts and collaboration,” Bueno said. “This collaboration leverages global solutions and new product development. We can pool the broader knowledge that brings together customers, government, education and industry partners.”
The Canberra centre will connect to similar centres in Palo Alto in the US and SAP’s headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. SAP already supports three hosted data centres in Sydney under arrangements with Equinix.
Locally hosted private cloud services address many of the concerns around data sovereignty, privacy and security, said Bueno. “There are sensitivities around services like welfare, social support, or the collection of revenue,” he said.
“At the government level, there are concerns that offshore services may compromise access to personal citizen data or other sensitive information.”
Cloud-based software-as-a-service platforms support the more private back-office functions across government. These include the handling of social services or healthcare cases as well as finance, HR or managing core assets.
Portfolios agencies such as social services, health, education, revenue-collection, and welfare benefit from private cloud services, Bueno said. “These services also build on digital government reforms using more agnostic communication channels.”
Pooling global talent
The Centre for Digital Government will pool the talent of more than 250 staff, both existing and planned hires. These include developers, solutions architects and service professionals. Staff will also collaborate with government, universities and industry partners on research and development.
SAP’s federal clients encompass key portfolio agencies. These include finance and treasury, defence, immigration and border protection, education, employment and police. These front-line organisations are fast-tracking digital services using online and mobile channels.
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