The ACT Govt’s appetite for Azure

The ACT Govt’s appetite for Azure

ACT eyes Azure amid cloud push

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government’s focus on digital transformation has placed cloud technology on the centre stage, as it aims to place 80 per cent of its IT infrastructure in the cloud.

The territory's government has already sided with Microsoft Azure to help deliver some of its new digital services, noting that hundreds of workloads had been transitioned to the cloud and more were being added daily. 

The ACT Government launched its digital strategy in 2016.

The Government has noted that demand for new services was soaring with its cloud enterprise management system handling hundreds of projects.

A prime example is the government’s Health Directorate project, which is still underway. The project managed to prove that a Microsoft Azure implementation was hundreds of thousands dollars less per year, than an internal hosting model.

ACT CTO, Al Blake, explained that under a cloud model, Directorates will be able to respond quicker, and ramp up and down with more flexibility.

“When the Health Directorate saves half a million on IT that has direct and immediate impact on its ability to deliver frontline services to citizens,” Blake said.

Azure is also being used to support cloud services in the education sector in the ACT particularly through the ‘teach anywhere’ initiative.

Other projects under construction is a government-wide data lake leveraging cloud services with MapR and Linux, a new child youth protection system that will be hosted in Azure and online voting system for managing enterprise agreements.

ACT Government executive director of shared services ICT, Gary Davis, said the digital transformation was part of its commitment to use innovative technologies to achieve outcomes, citizen services, education, health and other services in a more streamlined way than what was previously possible. In the process, it has also enhanced the government’s IT skills base.

“We can provision ICT services much quicker than before, a new system that once took several months can now be delivered in several hours. It’s a much more efficient and effective way to deliver services,” he said.

Davis highlighted cost efficiencies and improved responsiveness as some of the factors influencing the government’s cloud move.

“Microsoft cloud enables us to reduce our IT infrastructure footprint – hopefully we can move 80 per cent into the cloud – that helps reduce costs, improve responsiveness and improve the services we deliver,” Davis said.

“The less money we spend on back end administration of IT the more money can be allocated to the front end of citizen services.”

In June, the Australian Signals Directorate certified an expanded range of Microsoft Azure and Office 365 services for inclusion on its Certified Cloud Services List (CCSL). It expanded from six to 40 services that were deemed appropriate for infrastructure and applications in the hyperscale cloud.

Recently, Microsoft also formed a strategic partnership with Canberra Data Centres (CDC) and became the only major local cloud provider to deliver services handling unclassified and protected government data.

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