The State Government of Victoria is building the business case for cloud computing services, observing this platform offers substantially more savings compared to the traditional outsourcing model, according to Martin Hopley, CIO, Department of Treasury and Finance (Victoria). Mr Hopley was delivering a keynote address at an inaugural FutureGov Forum Victoria held in Melbourne (19th June). His presentation, Cloud Computing: another fad, or are we serious this time?” noted that agencies are motivated to use cloud services to benefit from economies of scale, while delivering cost savings. Cloud services can be paid like a utility and options and service levels can be adjusted on demand, Mr Hopley noted. This platform enables agencies to focus on service level agreements, while ensuring that vendor relationships are flexible, agile, and accommodate changing needs. Cloud services offer an alternative to traditional outsourcing: “Traditional outsourcing is negotiated upfront and can often be incorrectly scoped and costs underestimated.”
Agencies’ move to cloud services requires careful planning, including an information audit and classification of services. This planning should factor in “cloud-readiness,” while examining services portfolios, and bringing people into the planning process, Mr Hopley noted. He said that the cloud computing and shared services models present new challenges. These include managing multiple vendor relationships, complex integration issues and preventing the loss of data. Social media, mobile communications, cloud computing and growth of data are the major “disruptive influences” on government, according to Chris Dowling, Chief Information Officer, Department of Premier and Cabinet (Victoria). Mr Dowling told delegates that agencies faced a complexity of demands. These included greater access to public information, managing privacy and security, and meeting ever-increasing demands by younger demographics for “instant responses” to information or services.
During a closing keynote, Paul O’Connor, Sector Director, Technology Review, Auditor-General’s Office (Victoria), said agencies needed to “report meaningfully” on ICT performance and investment. He said financial accountability remained a real challenge for the Victorian Government. He noted that agencies needed to stop “fixating on technology and focusing on the outcomes.” The concept of open government also needed closer scrutiny, Mr O’Connor observed. “The premise of opening up government does not necessarily mean meeting all of the demands from citizens. The challenge is putting a human face on public sector service delivery.”