Australia’s corporate regulator is on the cusp of an historic shift into the cloud having recently launched a proof-of-concept to move its less sensitive data onto Microsoft’s Office 365 platform.
The Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) has been a fast adopter of virtualisation at the server and desktop level.
The sensitive nature of the information it handles and the federal government’s decision to consider privatising parts of the organisation have hampered its ability to move to cloud services as quickly as some other government organisations.
None of the Australian Signals Directorate’s panel of approved cloud providers, which includes Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Macquarie Telecom, Salesforce, former CRN Fast50 No.1 Sliced Tech and Vault Systems, have yet been certified to carry ASIC’s classified data.
ASIC’s other main barrier to adopting cloud services has been the federal government’s decision to consider selling off the agency’s massive business registry — a Department of Finance process that has been running for more than two years and could net the government up to $3 billion (it’s understood that the government received at least 10 expressions of interest in buying the registry and narrowed that down to a shortlist a few months ago).
ASIC chief information officer Wendy Bryant said it made no sense to modernise the registry system with the potential for its sale looming.
“There’s an element of we wouldn’t go and do something with that registry data that would then be undone if the privatisation went ahead so that factors in,” Bryant said.
Those conditions have limited ASIC’s cloud activity to learning management systems and other small external hosting management projects.
Perhaps most limiting of all, it has left ASIC glued to its ageing Lotus Notes system and the capability of its platform lagging well behind that of other government agencies.
“There’s a valid reason for that. We’ve still got a lot of systems that run off Lotus Notes applications and some of that is held up because of the registry separation decision. Because we’ve got Lotus Notes applications we haven’t been able to get off the Lotus Notes email but we’re doing both those things in parallel now. In effect we’re getting off the Lotus Notes email while getting off the old Lotus Notes systems,” Bryant said.
Bryant was referring to ASIC’s new project to split its classified and unclassified workloads to make way for Office 365 email and cut a path to move off the ageing Lotus Notes systems.
The initial proof-of-concept would involve 100 ASIC staff and, if successful, it will be extended to all 1800 of the agency’s employees.
“Office 365 is going to give us email in the cloud and a lot more flexibility. It’s going to give us Skype for Business and various other functions,” she said.
Saket Narayan, ASIC’s senior, design and architecture manager, said Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, SQL and Microsoft Reporting Services were some of the applications in scope for the project.
According to the federal government tender website, AusTender, ASIC recently appointed Adelphi Digital Consulting Group for a software maintenance support contract worth $150,000 running from March 2016 to June 2017.
Also, in September ASIC placed a job advertisement on its site for a permanent Microsoft SQL Database Administrator.
Bryant confirmed that the agency had engaged an external contractor to assist with the project but declined to reveal its identity.
“We’re working with a provider to help. We tend to supplement our own skills when necessary,” said Bryant.