Government agencies must adopt cloud where it is "fit for purpose, provides adequate protection of data and delivers value for money" when obtaining new ICT services or replacing existing services under an updated cloud computing policy released yesterday.
The policy mandates agencies use ICT refresh points as a trigger for evaluating cloud services, adopt public cloud for test and dev and Web hosting, evaluate "private, community, public or hybrid cloud services for operational systems", and look for opportunities for cross-agency cloud services.
"Data shows there has been only modest use of cloud services by government agencies to date," the policy states.
"Cloud procurements in AusTender have totalled approximately $4.7 million since July 2010, and the Data Centre as a Service multi-use list has reported cloud contracts totalling approximately $1.5m since October 2012.
"To put this in context, the Australian Government spends approximately $6 billion a year on ICT. These figures demonstrate that agencies have made limited progress in adopting cloud. A significant opportunity exists for agencies to increase their use of cloud services through the Australian Government Cloud Computing Policy."
Increasing the use of cloud by agencies will not only deliver efficiencies for the government but will have a 'flow-on' effect on the private sector. Government aversion to cloud services could reduce adoption in the private sector, the policy said.
"To further encourage the adoption of cloud, we have streamlined the decision making process for agencies considering cloud and other outsourced ICT arrangements," a joint statement issued by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, attorney-general George Brandis and finance minister Mathias Cormann said.
"We want to see a greater adoption of cloud services and cut through the red tape generated by the process developed under the previous government."
Under the new policy, heads of government agencies will be able to approve the use of public cloud services, including under some circumstances cloud services based overseas.
The Queensland government earlier this year released its own cloud-first policy, which put cloud computing "at the centre of government ICT reform".