On 29 May 2013, the Federal Government released its National Cloud Computing Strategy, designed to promote the use of cloud computing both within government and by the private sector, particularly small businesses, not-for-profits and consumers.

What does it say?

The Strategy has three main goals:

  1. maximising the value of cloud computing in government;
  2. promoting cloud computing to small businesses, not-for-profits and consumers; and
  3. supporting a vibrant cloud services sector.

The Government sees its role as promoting cloud, both through its own adoption of cloud services (such as mandatory consideration of cloud options in procurement processes), as well as enabling others to more easily use the cloud.

The Government views cloud computing as closely tied with the National Broadband Network, as well as having significant economic benefits in its own right.

The Strategy describes ICT as being in a time of transformation from individual business assets to a utility service offering.  SMEs are identified as particularly suited to benefitting from the cloud in this manner:  lacking the resources to properly invest in ICT infrastructure (which is also not their core business), cloud provides a potentially much more efficient option for these organisations.

What about the risks?

While the benefits of the cloud are clearly recognised, concerns over privacy, security and data sovereignty have led to a generally cautious approach so far in both the public and private sectors. 

A key example highlighted in the Strategy offers an approach to deal with some of the concerns around security and privacy.  The Commonwealth Bank, in describing its approach to cloud, highlights that sensitive information is stored in a private cloud (within the Bank’s network), while a public cloud is used for non-sensitive information. 

This selective approach enables the Bank to benefit from the full efficiency gains of public cloud in some areas while not exposing private information to the potential security and sovereignty risks.

What should organisations be doing about cloud?

The launch of this Strategy demonstrates that cloud computing is progressing to a mainstream procurement model. 

Organisations that undertake a selective and considered approach to procurement of cloud computing services can minimise the risks involved, enabling them to take advantage of the key benefits of efficiency and flexibility that cloud computing offers. 

SMEs in particular should be reviewing their current ICT systems to identify those that might be more effectively provided through the cloud.

The National Cloud Computing Strategy is available here.