In his first public appearance since his appointment to the top job, HP Enterprise Services Asia-Pacific boss Alan Bennett said that the cloud debate over data sovereignty could become a lot more complicated as some state agencies develop a preference for in-state storage of citizen data.
Bennett made the comments at the announcement of HP's new government cloud product in Sydney today, saying that he was seeing demand for in-state datacentres in conversations with agency IT managers.
"Some of the conversations we've been having with states show that [they're] happy to have non-citizen data to potentially be hosted or managed offshore, [but] they consider crossing a state boundary to be an offshore model.
"Some of the state agencies we've spoken to have been open to hosting certain classes of processing out of state, but they really want their data in-state and the ability to process it when they need to," Bennett said, likening the problem to differences between state train lines pre-Federation of Australia.
Bennett said that the main concerns of the states stemmed from not having direct, in-state access to important information like e-health records 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Yet, according to Bennett, squabbling states could get around their issues by adopting a model originally proposed by the European Union (EU).
"I spent a couple of years in Europe and this is a big debate in the EU around data sovereignty and maintaining economic integrity of jurisdiction, and some of the countries were open to holding multiple copies of the data. You always had to be able to turn it on inside the jurisdiction if anything went wrong on the other side of [the border]," he said.
Speaking to ZDNet Australia, Bennett said that cloud providers may need to build a datacentre presence in every state if an alternate answer couldn't be found.
Bennett's comments came as he and new HP Enterprise Services cloud services lead for Government and Defence Nicholas Bellamy today took the covers off of HP's new government cloud offering.
Bennett described HP's approach to government cloud as "cautious".
"We've been a little bit cautious in terms of taking a point of view about government cloud services because there are some different requirements from the commercial market," he said, adding that HP had waited for the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) to release its final cloud computing road map before proceeding.
"Launching something prior to the government taking a position on what agencies were approved to do ran the risk of having something that they couldn't consume," he said.
Ovum analyst Kevin Noonan was optimistic about the new offering, saying that the discussions about cloud in Australia are now giving way to practical announcements for the local market.
"It's time to get serious about cloud, and here it is. It's actually happening to real customers and there are real announcements that are happening right now that are specific to Australia.
"We're stopping talk about the theory, we're not talking about hype, we're not talking about overseas models, we're talking about the here and now and things that are important to us as an industry here in Australia," Noonan said.
HP's government cloud offering will be rolled out in phases, with phase one hosted out of the Global Switch facility in Sydney until HP completes its datacentre build in Western Sydney in November.
Phase one will see HP host Microsoft SharePoint software as a service, as well as infrastructure-as-a-service offerings within the Global Switch facility, including Windows Server, online storage, client-managed server, and backup and recovery services.
Bennett said that HP Enterprise Services chose Global Switch due to its stringent security protocols, which have given it a federal security clearance.
Bennett said that the new cloud offering, once ramped up, would likely appeal to small to medium-sized government agencies.
"The people who are going to be really interested in cloud-like services are going to be the small and medium agencies. Carve out the top six to eight who are big enough [to negotiate their own terms and pricing] and then you've got the guys who are maybe only spending between $5 million and $20 million a year, where they really can't get the economies of scale," he said.
Additional phases of HP's government cloud offering are set to be rolled out over the next three years in line with the AGIMO's cloud strategy.
"It's more of a showcase at this point," Bennett said.