Considered cloud approach better than 'blindly' pushing cloud: Lundy

The Australian government's considered cloud policy is better than just blindly pushing cloud without considering the security or privacy of data, according to Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy Kate Lundy.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

Blindly pushing cloud first for Australian government agencies is not the best approach, according to Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy Kate Lundy.

In May, the Australian government released its National Strategy for Cloud Computing, outlining that government agencies must consider using cloud services as part of any new procurement, and will choose cloud where it represents the best value for money and has an adequate management of risk.

There was criticism at the time that the Australian government had not followed the lead of places like the UK and the US in going down the path of having a "cloud first" policy for procurement, and Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said recently that should the Coalition win the September election, he would "aggressively promote a cloud-first strategy."

But in her first interview with ZDNet since taking on her ministerial role in the Digital Economy portfolio, Lundy said that the government's considered approach is the best way to balance the advantages of cloud with the need to ensure privacy and security.

"Cloud has so much potential here, but what we've done is set an appropriate test to ensure people's security and privacy is protected and put a system in place for assessing that in government agencies and departments," she said.

"In a way, it is the best of both worlds: We've got a cloud policy of promoting it, but we're not doing it blindly or in an ill-informed way — we're doing it in a way where governments are accountable for that security and privacy of people's data."

Through the development of the policy, government agencies now have clear guidelines on what standards the government expects in the adoption of cloud, she said.

"Without these policies being clear, and they finally are, we were facing a relatively slow uptake," she said. "I think we've got the settings right now so all those unanswered questions are now answered about what the government's policy position is."

Yesterday, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr announced that if the Labor government is re-elected, a new Creative Digital Innovation Partnership will be set up in Ultimo, Sydney. The partnership will receive up to AU$6 million in funding out to 2016-17 from the government to bring together startups, small businesses, government, research organisations, and big businesses such as the ABC, IBM Australia, Commonwealth Bank, National ICT Australia (NICTA), and the University of Technology, Sydney.

The core partners will be expected to match the government funding.

The partnership will have access to a fund for large-scale projects, and the funding per project will range between AU$100,000 and AU$10 million per year.

While the announcement spoke of mimicking Silicon Valley, Lundy told ZDNet that the National Broadband Network would mean that Ultimo wouldn't need to become Australia's own Silicon Valley.

"I think the concept of a Silicon Beach or a Silicon Alley or a place in Australia [is] a beautiful thing, but the NBN and the presence of a universal high-bandwidth network means that geographic location is less of an issue potentially in Australia, so we might have silicon beaches instead of the singular," she said.

One area that Lundy was passionate about before taking on her new portfolio is government 2.0 and the availability of government datasets. She said that the government could help foster the development of uses of that data in apps and other projects through showcasing the best examples produced by the public, and also through preparing the data in a format that is readable.

"I get feedback all the time with datasets being released that a lot of work has to be done to those datasets before you're able to mash them up on platforms," she said.

"It's not as simple as it sounds to just release the dataset, and I think good government policy can make sure what is released is in that readily usable and available and readable format so innovation can occur."

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