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Cloud Computing

Review of Australian equivalent of “Cloud First” policy

 In this blog I compare the US “cloud first” strategy and Australia’s draft Cloud Computing policy.

US Cloud First Policy:
US Government’s policy is known as “Cloud first”. (http://www.cio.gov/documents/Federal-Cloud-Computing-Strategy.pdf). It is developed by Vivek Kundra, the CIO. In the opening statement itself he admits that the current IT environment is inefficient. Without mincing words the policy states Cloud Computing has potential to address these inefficiencies.

The best part of the strategy is that it outlines the budget. Out of the USD 80 billion federal IT budget, USD 20 billion is targeted for the services to move to cloud.

The policy provides a decision framework to help the agencies to prioritize their services to move to cloud. The framework has three stages:

  1. Select
  2. Provision
  3. Manage

The selection phase is based on a two dimensional evaluation criteria. At one dimension the “value” is assessed. In the other dimension “cloud readiness” is assessed. We get a profile of services as shown below:

Figure 1 Selecting Services for Cloud Migration (source: Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, 2011)

Australia’s Cloud Computing policy

Australia’s Cloud Computing Strategic Direction paper (http://www.finance.gov.au/e-government/strategy-and-governance/docs/draft_cloud_computing_strategy.pdf) is released on January 2011, one month prior to the US Strategy paper. It is prepared by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Unlike the US Strategy paper there is no author name. This gives the impression of lack of ownership.

The executive summary does not admit any problems with the current environment. As a result, it is not clear whether the policy makers are convinced Cloud Computing is suitable for the agencies. More importantly, there are no
quantitative targets. I do not like any directive without giving a sense of the quantum of work. You may argue that the USD 20 billion target is a “pie in the sky” estimate without much analysis. But still it gives a sense of the commitment.

In the 44 page document, the policy is described in page 22. Here is the policy:

The Australian Government and its agencies will choose cloud based services if they demonstrate value for money and are adequately secure.

Well, I do not how you feel – I think the above statement does not provide any direction. It tells the agencies, “feel free to evaluate cloud computing. Everybody talks about it. If you find it useful, please go ahead and let us know”.

Apart from this soft approach, the paper does have some useful content. The “Environment scan” section gives the major trends within Australia and other countries.

Summary:

We, at Australia are still debating about cloud computing. Our concerns are mainly around security and privacy. In fact, many people mentioned about WikiLeaks as an example of the inherent risks in electronic communications. Interestingly, the USA is the country that is most embarrassed by WikiLeaks. Still, they are able to de-link the issues and able to provide clear direction about cloud computing. Their policy shows that they are not sitting on the fence. They are convinced about the value and want the agencies to follow that direction. In my opinion, Australia is still sitting on the fence. Let me know if you think otherwise.

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About Murali Ramakrishnan

Murali is the Managing Director of the boutique consulting firm "Process-Symphony". Process-Symphony specializes in IT enabled business process orchestration. http://www.process-symphony.com.au http://www.kloudax.net.au

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