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Australian Government’s New Third Cloud Computing Policy Shows Technical Leadership

The Australian Government has just released a third version of its Cloud Computing Policy. The new policy can be found here, although for additional context, it is located as part of a range of documents associated with Cloud Computing Policy, found here.

The document is a significant step forward from previous years. Previously departments needed to demonstrate that they had considered using Cloud before they implemented any new systems. The new policy is far more “Cloud-friendly”: the policy is now described as “cloud first” and states that “agencies must adopt cloud where it is fit for purpose, provides adequate protection of data and delivers value for money.” (emphasis on ‘must’ included in original document”

The government makes it clear this is the desired direction: “… agencies have made limited progress in adopting cloud. A significant opportunity exists for agencies to increase their use of cloud services through the Australian Government Cloud Computing Policy.”

“We are committed to leading by example, demonstrating the benefits of investing in and using cloud services”, the foreword goes on to say. Reflecting this, the stated policy goal is to “reduce the cost of government ICT by eliminating duplication and fragmentation and will lead by example in using cloud services to reduce costs, lift productivity and develop better services”

Whereas previously government agencies were asked to first consider Cloud, the new policy states they are “required to use Cloud services for new ICT services and when replacing any existing ICT services, whenever the cloud services:” are fit for purpose, offer best value, and manage risk adequately.

The policy encourages departments to consider cross-entity cloud facilities. Public cloud facilities are recommended for hosting public facing websites and private, public, community and hybrid are recommended for operational systems.

The government sees its role as a technical leader in the wider marketplace: “There is also an important flow-on effect to the broader economy. Combined with states and territories, government expenditure on ICT makes up approximately 30 per cent of the domestic ICT market. Improved adoption of cloud services by the government sends an important signal to the private sector. If government agencies were perceived to be treating cloud services as risky, this could reduce the adoption in the economy more generally.”

I think this is very encouraging for Australian uptake of Cloud – not just in a restricted public-cloud way, but in a full-spectrum use of Cloud technologies. After all, if the Government is mandating Cloud, what excuses do other businesses have?


Cloud Computing: It’s not just about Price

I fly a lot. When you do something a lot, little frictions start to mount up and can become a hassle.

Last week I had a small trip from Sydney to Melbourne and I was booked one way on one of the low cost airlines that offer a price that includes only the seat – everything else is an optional extra. On the way back I flew an airline that offers an all-inclusive price.

Since it was a short trip, I only took carry-on luggage with me. When I went through the scanners I was told that I had a pair of scissors in my bag and I had to surrender them. The scissors were expensive ones so I opted to go back and check in my carry-on bag. When I got to the counter I was asked to pay more than the price of the ticket to check my bag in.

I have to admit I got a bit upset at this and decided I had to throw the scissors away – they were good, but not worth the baggage charge. Frustrated, I tossed the scissors and went back through the scanners, to find out that my shaving cream was now being rejected due to an ill-fitting top. Rather impatiently, I made it very clear the shaving cream was not that important to me.

Then I walked off towards my gate lounge and realized I had lost my wallet somewhere in all of this mess. So I had to go back to the security area, then eventually to the check in area, again with my bags, and learned that my wallet had been taken to the gate lounge.

So after passing through the security screen for the third time I finally went to my gate lounge and picked up my wallet. Over the next five minutes, the gate was changed three times, in one case we were swapped with another flight.

When I finally arrived in Melbourne, there was an attendant (mis)managing the taxis. Fifteen taxi spots back to back and one taxi pulling up at a time, always being sent to the first spot, so the person sent there was always served quickly, but the poor people back in spot ten, eleven, twelve etc were waiting forever. More frustration.

All of these issues were minor in the bigger scheme of things, but they all added up to a really bad experience. by the time I reached my destination I was furious. Contrasting that with my return trip where I am a high-profile customer. I swiped my card, went to the lounge had breakfast, boarded my flight without incident. But if there was an incident, the airline would have assigned someone to take care of it, without charge.

I recognize that both these models are valid – pay a little and hope all goes well, or pay a premium for the piece of mind that you are in good hands, but often the prices of these product offerings are compared as if they are the same thing.

Cloud hosting is like this. Some providers offer a self-service model designed to be cost efficient without any bells and whistles, and if you run into difficulties you are pretty much on your own, or into some sort of exception management situation. Others charge a bit more, but include Service Level Agreements and support offerings that are factored into the price so that when you are in a spot of bother, someone will be there for you.

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