Defence details Google Apps pilot

The Australian Department of Defence has revealed that it will commence its first public cloud trial of Google Apps in April.

The Australian Department of Defence is commencing its trial of Google Apps in April, the department has revealed.

ZDNet first reported last week that the Department of Defence would run a limited Google Apps trial over two years in the Australian Defence College.

"The pilot is a limited 24-month trial to assess the merit of extending the broader use of cloud within the Defence," the department stated in a response to a question on notice regarding cloud uptake.

A spokesperson for Defence told ZDNet on Wednesday that the trial will start in April.

"Defence will commence the Google Apps trial in April this year. The trial is expected to span across approximately 450 users, including both students and academic staff," the spokesperson said.

"Defence will not be making any adjustments and will be trialling the standard suite of Google Apps."

The first trial of public cloud services will be a big step forward for the agency. It has been even more cautious in adopting cloud services than most government agencies. CIO Peter Lawrence told ZDNet in late 2013 that there was some scope for the department to use private cloud only.

"I think for some of our test development-type activity, where we might not have any production data, we might be able to manage any security risks. Absolutely, I think some cloud-based service models could help us, so we don't have to do all that ourselves, we can be elastic, pay for what we need when we need it," he said.

"I can see a place for a service-type model in some of our production systems."

A spokesperson for the department told ZDNet that a wider deployment of Google Apps would be decided after the trial.

"All decisions will be made based on the compatibility with the Defence environment and in line with the Australian Government Cloud Computing Policy. With the project in its early stages, it has yet to be determined if Google Apps will be adopted across the broader organisation," the spokesperson said.

Under the cloud policy unveiled by the federal government last year, agencies now "must adopt cloud where it is fit for purpose, provides adequate protection of data, and delivers value for money".

In October, the government revealed that although the Australian government spends AU$6 billion on IT annually, a mere AU$4.7 million has been spent on cloud services by the government since July 2010.