ASD hands out government-protected cloud certification to two local players

Sliced Tech and Vault Systems have been awarded protected-level federal government certification ahead of their global cloud competitors.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has awarded protected-level ASD Certification to Sliced Tech and Vault Systems, allowing the local duo to store highly classified government information in their respective cloud platforms.

In total, seven cloud vendors in the local market were granted unclassified DLM status, which still allows for the storing of sensitive government data, however at a less protected level.

Australian managed services provider Sliced Tech received protected-level certification from ASD for its "Gov Cloud Package", with its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud platform also receiving unclassified DLM certification.

Similarly, government-focused Vault Systems also received protected certification for its government cloud offering and its IaaS offering is also certified for unclassified DLM use.

Rounding out the local offerings, Australian telecommunications provider Macquarie Telecom received Unclassified DLM certification for its GovZone (launch) offering.

The ASD backing sees Sliced Tech, Vault Systems, and Macquarie Telecom join the global cloud giants in receiving government certification, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) making the list for its EBS, EC2, S3, and VPC offerings; IBM for Bluemix; Microsoft with its Azure cloud, Dynamics CRM Online, and Office 365 platforms; and Salesforce with its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and SaaS offerings.

In awarding certification, the ASD said it broadly used the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Definition of Cloud Computing, which defines five characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models for best-practice cloud computing.

The NIST definition characterises important aspects of cloud computing and is intended to serve as a means for broad comparisons of cloud services and deployment strategies, and to provide a baseline for discussion from what is cloud computing to how to best use cloud computing, the organisation explains [PDF].

ASD said it also included cloud computing services that have alternative billing models to those described by NIST in handing out certification.

Other cloud providers are currently going through ASD's certification process, the intelligence agency explained.

Macquarie Telecom's managed cloud service was initially given the security tick by the ASD in May 2015, making it the first Australian cloud provider to be listed on the federal government's certified list.

Similarly, Microsoft Dynamics CRM originally received ASD certification in November 2015.

In a bid to make it easier for government departments and agencies to procure a cloud-based solutions provider, the Australian government established a Cloud Services Panel as part of a whole-of-government digital strategy.

The decision to form the panel came after it was revealed that despite the government spending over AU$5 billion per year on IT, the total procurement of cloud services by federal agencies since mid-2010 came to just AU$4.7 million.

"The panel aims to offer agencies scalable and flexible cloud services via industry offerings, and do so in a way that reduces the burden on industry," the government's chief technology officer John Sheridan explained previously.

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