WA Health hybrid cloud shift picks up pace with Microsoft Office 365 transition

Deploying Office 365 state-wide to 45,000 staff across 500 sites.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Western Australia's Health Support Services (HSS) has announced it will be transitioning its 500 sites to Microsoft Office 365, as part of its state-wide hybrid cloud shift.

According to a blog post from Microsoft, the solution is currently being piloted, with the intent to roll it out to HSS' 45,000 staff by mid-2020.

HSS is the WA health system's shared services provider delivering connectivity, central compute and storage, and application support for all of WA Health. The team also leads on cybersecurity issues for the agency.

The Microsoft transition is taking place alongside WA Health's hybrid cloud shift, with HSS in March signing a AU$124 million, five year deal with Atos to transition the current legacy infrastructure.

"Our model for the future of compute and storage is going to be hybrid cloud, with the majority probably in private cloud, and increasing over the coming years in managed public cloud services," HSS CIO Holger Kaufmann said in Microsoft's blog post.

The transition to the cloud is taking place alongside an overhaul of the wide area network that connects WA Health's 500 sites, spread across the state.

In a bid to ensure data controls and security is addressed throughout the transformation, HSS has recently established a cyber-focussed Security and Risk Management (SRM) team to improve cybersecurity.

See also: Cyberattacks can cost APAC healthcare firms $23.3M

According to HSS, this included managing a Digital Information Security (DIS) program to "bolster the cybersecurity baseline" in preparation for ongoing transformation, using Microsoft Security Cloud Services such as Advanced Threat Analytics, Azure Active Directory, and multi-factor authentication.

"We are partnering with Microsoft to help us with technical resources, and fully leverage our investments in the Microsoft Office 365 suite," SRM team lead and ICT Director Security and Risk Management at HSS Martin Dart said.

See also: WA Auditor General report finds state entities still don't get infosec

Microsoft said it has run a series of workshops with the SRM team to "ensure maximum advantage from Microsoft 365, and to enhance the security posture across the enterprise".

"By expanding the DIS project we are looking to tackle issues including Australian data sovereignty over cloud services. We're currently rewriting our cloud security policy to reflect that as a key concept, that not all clouds are created equal -- Australian clouds versus overseas clouds," Dart added.

HSS was earlier this week put under the microscope as part of the WA Auditor General's report into the project to replace PathWest's Laboratory Information System (LIS).

Auditor General Caroline Spencer found the LIS replacement project is expected to be completed two years late and will cost AU$50.5 million -- AU$23.7 million more than its originally approved project budget.

PathWest provides pathology services to Western Australia's public health system. It operates 50 collection centres, 23 branch laboratories and 5 teaching hospital laboratories, and conducts around 16 million tests each year.

PathWest is currently using the old system, Ultra, purchased in 1994, which was flagged for end of life replacement in 2014.

HSS hosts both the current and replacement laboratory information systems.

The SRM team was stood up in direct response to public sector audits, HSS said.


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