Government Cloud: Fad or lofty ideal? (Part 2)

Investigating the 'G-Cloud'

A need for data delineation comes out of a well-established drought of local facilities from the global Cloud players, one many CIOs, both public and private, believe is preventing them from adopting an ‘all-in’ mentality to Cloud.

Though the likes of Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce offer the lucrative chance to rent storage, computing and software, they often do so from the confines of Singapore and Hong Kong, areas in which those dictated by strict data laws simply aren’t willing to tread.

Frost & Sullivan’s Chandrasekaran suggests it is a double-edged sword; governments must play their part to lure the global players on-shore, in order to ultimately benefit from the services they provide.

This article is part two of a two-part series on government use of Cloud computing. Click here for part one.

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“What has been in favour of Australia is definitely the demand, the fact that Australia is always seen as one of the early adopters of new technology,” he says. “But in terms of creating a great connectivity infrastructure from a broadband standpoint, Australia faces significant competition from Singapore and Hong Kong.”

Yet demand alone is not enough for the Australian Cloud market.

As di Maio is quick to point out, even with a $4.3 billion wallet, the Australian Government is a drop in the ocean compared to Washington and the governments of other major world players. Faced with that conundrum, Australian governments have already made their decision: Under the right circumstances, the Cloud is a go.

That was a game. This is paintball

Despite all the talk of public and private Clouds, government action is yet to move beyond proofs of concept; toe-in-the-water experiences at best.

What has become cemented in the minds of department IT heads, however, is the concept of a ‘community Cloud’, or what has become known more colloquially in public circles as the ‘G-Cloud’: By pooling their resources together major government departments can consolidate infrastructure, minimise where possible and take turns to scale their computing as required at peak demand times of the year.

“The way our virtualisation is progressing we should be easily able to share capacity across agencies, responding to periods of high demand,” says Department of Human Services deputy secretary of IT infrastructure, John Wadeson.

“We are building an infrastructure which has many of the attributes of Cloud computing; highly virtualised, large capacity.”

Much of Wadeson’s attention in recent months has been focussed on pooling the infrastructure of at least two major government departs — Medicare and Centrelink — under a $374 million project announced in this year’s budget that is expected to see the staff of both sides of the fence share management systems and data centres.

The pool has grown ever wider as smaller social service agencies clamour to prop their bits and bytes up with the larger budget of Wadeson’s agency.

But the pool is one of several Human Services could be involved in if the ‘G-Cloud’ does eventuate locally; a community arrangement more like an aquatic centre than an individual pool itself.

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