After the Federal Government released its draft cloud strategy document for comment on Friday, analysts have called for a cloud watchdog to police the operations of vendors as the government moves to the new IT platform.
"It won't be until we get our first colossal failure of a cloud provider until we [recognise the need for a cloud body]," said Sam Higgins, research director with Longhaus, likening a crash to a possible Ansett Australia-style collapse.
"It never occurred to me when they were [in operation] to think that Ansett, HIH, One.Tel would fail. To me it's a matter of time before something goes wrong for a cloud provider. Somebody needs to be watching that," he added.
Higgins said, however, that it wasn't about regulating services provided over the internet like internet banking providers and so on, it was about regulating the actions of cloud vendors to ensure data continuity.
"This is more about the risk management of the fact that cloud and technologies is a critical piece of economic infrastructure so it's much more about the way that APRA regulates banks," Higgins said.
The research director added that the cloud industry needs to demonstrate that it can self-regulate.
"We need to make sure that the industry can do self-regulation before a screw-up, that way governments won't throw a tougher regulatory blanket over you in future if you've demonstrated that ability," he added.
Arun Chandrasekaran, research manager for Frost & Sullivan, agreed, saying that the government's entry into the cloud market needs to bring with it new industry standards.
"A lot of cloud standards are not highly evolved and there's no one there to monitor these cloud service providers," Chandrasekaran said.
"This is where the government needs to step in and develop and evolve standards so that there's more maturity on the supply side," he added.
In its strategy document released on Friday, the government highlighted several prominent cloud vendors including Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft Azure.
Higgins said that while he understands the move to put big cloud names on the document, smaller cloud providers need to stand up and be counted or risk being left out of any future cloud discussions with the government.
"I imagine the Melbourne ITs and Cloud Centrals will be disappointed they don't rate a mention [in the document]," Higgins said.
The research director said that because the document is open to comment, it would be easy for mid-level home-grown cloud providers to put their hand up in the cloud discussion.
"If they're not on the list by the time the document is finalised, then I think it's worth a mention to their local member," Higgins added.
Higgins said that the timeline of the cloud move flew in the face of previous migration plans, including those of previous Queensland CIO Alan Chapman, who said that the move to cloud could take up to 15 years as opposed to the five to 10 in the Federal Government's latest strategy documents.
"I think it's good they're being ambitious and I think it's good they're putting their foot on the accelerator," he said.
Chandrasekaran compared the timeline of the Federal Government's draft document to the US Government's cloud computing strategy, saying that, side by side, the Australian plan is relatively conservative.
"The US Government is even more ambitious than the Australian Government. They had unveiled a three-year plan, and by 2013 they want every agency to have a coherent and strong cloud strategy," he said.
"Overall, however, I think it's a positive step," Chandrasekaran added.