The New Zealand government recently announced an all-of-government cloud computing approach, which features a positive "cloud-first" statement of intent for ICT procurement. This policy is at odds with the more conservative policy position of the Australian federal government.
Dr. Steve Hodgkinson, Research Director at Ovum comments:
"Australia's stance is formally "cloud neutral" but, in practice, is "cloud last," because it lacks a clear vision of the benefits of the cloud model but is very clear about its risks."
"The contrast between the two country's positions is subtle but important, because significant barriers to cloud adoption are deeply embedded in the twentieth-century ICT procurement policies and practices of agencies."
The announcement of an all-of-government approach to cloud computing by Chris Tremain, New Zealand's Minister of Internal Affairs, is the latest evolution in several years of progression in "cloud thinking" by the government CIO team, under its ICT Directions and Priorities strategy and the Better Public Services reform programme. Initiatives have so far included the creation of a panel of IaaS providers and the development of a cloud business case.
It was noted that the adoption of cloud services, whether hosted onshore or offshore, involves potential risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of government information, and that appropriate risk and assurance frameworks will need to be developed.
It was agreed that office productivity services will be the first set of services to be deployed, hosted onshore for the time being, and initially implemented in a small number of agencies with subsequent deployment across the state services and the wider state and public sectors.
Australia’s "cloud-neutral" - or "cloud-last" - position
The Australian government's policy position on cloud computing is "that agencies may choose to use cloud computing services where they provide value for money and adequate security." This can be characterized as a "cloud-neutral" position. However, when combined with the publication of documents that primarily describe the potential or theoretical risks and issues relating to cloud services, agencies will interpret the position as "cloud last" and play safe, avoiding or deferring cloud adoption.
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