The Australian government released their guidelines on their venture with cloud computing after several months of brainstorming. This was released on the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) blog, which was posted a few days ago. In the blog, AGIMO discussed the significant advantages of migrating to cloud computing. Cloud computing as the post says may have challenges and drawbacks, but with the right structure its huge benefits can outnumber the obstacles.
AGIMO advised companies that with cloud computing it is very important to negotiate with many providers. It also added that negotiations will be a lot different from the traditional setup because companies will have to consider transparency and hypersensitivity issues when it comes to citizen’s private information.
To better help companies in their cloud migration they have come up with the first guideline, the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) that will cover Better Practice Guides for cloud services. This deals particularly with financial, privacy and legal concerns on a global scale.
Glen Archer, first assistant secretary for the AGIMO policy and planning division said, “The guides have been developed to reflect Australian Government FMA Act agencies’ responsibilities in the context of the Australian legislative and regulatory environment.”
This guideline mentioned the need for a steady usage monitoring and controlling through daily bill analysis and reporting. This will help avoid hidden charges and lock-in issues from the cloud vendors.
AGIMO stated, “Agencies must ensure the contract with the cloud vendor does not ‘lock’ the agency into a relationship with the vendor beyond the duration of the contract.”
Another document drafted as the second guideline was the Privacy and Cloud Computing for Australian Government Agencies. This document is to give particular attention to privacy and security issues with data storage whether it will contain personal information or not or whether information should be stored on a case-to-case basis only. This document should also work in compliance with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and with the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs).
In addition to the Privacy and Cloud Computing for Australian Government Agencies’ document, the Negotiating the Cloud – Legal Issues in Cloud Computing Agreements have also been complied with it to support companies in exploring the provisions in a contract.
“Agencies need to be aware of their privacy and data security obligations when transferring personal information into any cloud environment. If privacy issues cannot be adequately addressed, the OAIC advises that it will not be appropriate to transfer ‘personal information’ into a public cloud,” AGIMO stated.
Lastly and the third guideline, the Financial Considerations for Government use of Cloud Computing document deals with financial concerns if a company so decides to consider cloud computing solutions for the business. It discussed about the cloud requirements and the figures it will require to have the best cloud platform in terms of storage, security and reliability.
There are other issues that need to be tackled in cloud computing other than these guidelines. A few of them include the areas of community governance and guidance, procurement guidelines and business management policies.
Suzanne Campbell, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association said in one of her statements, “The IT industry needs to sit in the boardroom as business plans are created, and with government as policy is developed. In a hugely competitive global economy, anything less is to risk a stasis, from which we may never recover.”