No Love For Cloud Computing In Budget 2014

Many of the proposals in this year's Federal Budget were driven by recommendations from the National Commission of Audit. One that isn't reflected in the budget, though, is a suggestion that cloud computing should become the default model for delivering government services.

Umbrella picture from Shutterstock

The Commission was very enthusiastic about cloud computing:

Cloud computing is a way of leasing computing services over a network. It can reduce costs by sharing them across users. The Commission recommends that the Government increase its adoption of cloud computing by introducing a mandatory 'cloud first' policy for all low risk, generic information and communication technology services; and establishing a whole-of-government cloud computing provider panel.

However, there's nothing specific about cloud computing at all in any of the Budget documents. There is this slightly ominous note about outsourcing (amidst plans to sack 16,500 public servants):

The Government is systematically assessing whether government functions should be open to competition and outsourced. Over time, this process will lead to new private sector opportunities and more efficient and effective service delivery. The Government should be active only where it is needed and where the private sector cannot adequately fulfil the function. Outsourcing non-essential functions and enhancing competition will lead to more efficient and effective service delivery and reduced expenditure.

Those goals could be met with cloud computing, but the resources needed to plan an efficient cloud migration might prove a stumbling block. Time will tell. Meanwhile, if you're curious about how Budget 2014 will hit your own hip pocket, check out our guide.


    Maybe for websites which host only public information, hosting using cloud services is not such a bad idea. However, for anything which is holding personal or private data the last thing we really want is for the government to be shifting storage and processing out into operational environments that they don't control, under the jurisdiction of another government (e.g. any Amazon-based hosting since they are a U.S. based company).

    If the federal government wants to go cloud, then they would be better off setting up their own internal cloud. The more servers you have, the less the relative benefit of moving to external cloud hosting (because one of the biggest advantages of cloud hosting is that your transient need for additional servers or changing over servers is absorbed in a huge server pool). If you have a bucketload of servers anyway, then you can absorb that into your own cloud.

    I guess we can look at groups like Cenitex, though, for how badly government can fuck up IT (e.g. staff awarding their own companies contracts).

      I worked on delivering internal IT infrastucture but now run IT at an organisation running on Amazon. I would not go back to running internal infrastucture. Private cloud is just marketing for hardware sellers and server huggers trying to stay relevent. You dont get the commoditisation you get with geniuine cloud. Plus implementing the automatic provisioning, auto-scaling functionality, teiring and cost accounting is really expensive on-prem. A plain ESX cluster isn't a private cloud.

        I've done both as well, and for what I do now I likewise wouldn't go back to operating internal infrastructure. However, I don't work on particularly sensitive data and generally I only run a few dozen servers.
        For a government who has more departments than I have servers, I think that there really is the capacity to run it internally and there are security and privacy advantages. Keep in mind that as soon as you are running a virtualised on someone else's infrastructure you are relying on their security as well as your own, and things like hypervisor hacks do happen (although none I'm aware of on Amazon).
        Private cloud is a marketing term, sure, but so is the term 'cloud' generally.

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