'

Government examines feasibility behind email as a service

The Australian government is undertaking a feasibility study to understand whether offering email and desktop productivity tools as a service would be viable.

A whole-of-government offering for email and desktop productivity tools to be provided as a service using a secure, cloud-hosted environment may soon be a viable practice.

Australian government chief technology officer John Sheridan said the Department of Finance recently engaged an external consultant to help examine the feasibility of the idea.

"Government agencies could use these services as an alternative to procuring and managing their own email and desktop productivity software and its associated back-of-house hardware," he said.

The feasibility study that is being undertaken will conclude in November 2014, which would then allow the Department of Finance to form conclusions about the potential viability of the proposed services.

Sheridan said he then expects the government to seek public consultation on how the services, which are being referred to as govMail and govDesk, could be effectively delivered.

He also said there's potential that the style of services will be delivered through arrangements established in the recently released cloud service panel , which is in request for tender. The panel is expected to provide a non-mandatory procurement mechanism for agencies to access cloud services, including software, platform, and infrastructure as a service, and special cloud services, without the need for a full approach to market.

The project is following a similar approach to the one the government took in establishing a government content management system, referred to as govCMS, which is currently being implemented. Last week, a four-year deal was inked with Acquina to implement the Drupal-based web govCMS. Under the terms of the deal, GovCMS will be delivered on Acquia Cloud, and will incorporate Acquia Cloud Site Factory, a software-as-a-service application for Drupal.

The whole-of-government approach to services falls under the Australian government's national cloud strategy, where it is currently undertaking steps to implement cloud technology within the government.