NSW govt must look at cloud for IT solutions

The new Cloud Services Policy mandates that state government IT initiatives in NSW must look at open standards and cloud-based solutions when procuring IT systems.

The New South Wales government today released its first Cloud Services Policy to help direct its agencies as they move to service-based IT solutions.

As part of the move, NSW agencies will now have to "evaluate cloud‐based services when undertaking ICT procurements" to determine "the best-value sustainable investment". Coupled with this requirement, agencies will also need to consider open standards, security, interoperability, and data portability to mitigate "technology lock‐in and inadequate data portability".

"Cloud is the future of ICT service delivery, and this policy puts NSW at the forefront of the digital economy, giving public sector agencies the tools and information they need to adopt cloud-based solutions," said NSW Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance.

"It will improve service delivery by allowing more agile, flexible, and reliable technology, and it will deliver cost savings by helping us get better value for money for these services."

The government said that its move to the cloud is more than an IT-related decision, and is part of a "larger business re-engineering" move.

"Early engagement across the agency on the change implications of transitioning to an as‐a‐service model will allow agencies to more easily take advantage of associated opportunities to improve business efficiency," the policy says.

"Careful evaluation of an ICT delivery model is required for any solution, whether delivered through traditional in‐house methods or cloud services. While not all government information or ICT will be suitable for cloud, where appropriate, cloud services will support agencies' strategic transition to a service orientation."

The government said it will be consolidating into two new datacentres that will provide "datacentre as a service" to its agencies, as well as its own private cloud. The datacentres will host services from a number of vendors, with agencies having the option to make use of any providers' private or public cloud infrastructure.

The Cloud Services Policy acknowledges that IT workforces will be impacted by movement into the cloud.

"The skills and capabilities required to deploy ICT as a service with a cloud‐based solution may decrease the demand for certain system maintenance/software skill sets, and increase the demand for business analysts, portfolio/program managers, and vendor/contract managers.

"There may also be implications for agency skills and capabilities requirements through the implementation of cloud services, for example, where 'commercial off‐the‐shelf' solutions are used and business practices need to be amended."

The policy is set to be reviewed in a year's time, but may be reviewed earlier than that in response to "post‐implementation feedback" from government departments.

In July, the government announced that it had selected Unisys and Fronde to deliver the messaging component of its three-month cloud services trial. The desktop portion of the trial was delivered by Hewlett-Packard.

Last month, Constance was not apologetic in his call for NSW government IT to improve .

"I make no apologies that I expect improved performance right across government when it comes to issues around ICT and, of course, any other marketing programs," Constance said in state government estimates in July.

Constance launched an independent audit into Sydney Water last month , after the utility provider spent AU$7 million on a new website, accounting for 4.5 percent of its IT budget for the past three years.

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