Macquarie Telecom beats Microsoft to ASD Protected classification

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Macquarie Telecom beats Microsoft to ASD Protected classification

Macquarie Telecom has achieved Protected accreditation for its government cloud services, pipping Microsoft, which is currently vying for the certification.

Govzone, the cloud platform run by MacTel division Macquarie Government, was already approved for Unclassifed data by the Australian Signals Directorate approval, as well as offering an ASD-certified Protected gateway service.

Macquarie Government managing director Aidan Tudehope said: "Macquarie has invested hugely in specialised infrastructure in our highly secure data centres in Canberra and Sydney, and in building a team of over 100 security cleared staff, all because we believe security is the foundation of government digital transformation.

“The need for ‘baked in’ security was made clear in the report on the eCensus failure, which recommended the certification of protected cloud services should be hastened to help government agencies move to safer information storage and management environments,” he said.

MacTel outlined its government ambitions in its most recent financial results, revealing a plan to invest $3 million of opex and $1.6 million of capex in Canberra, citing "strong and growing demand from our federal government agencies for secure cloud, including from tier one agencies like ATO".

Cloud services are proving more profitable for MacTel than its traditional business.

The ASX-listed company reported an 8 percent rise in revenue to $219.7 million for the year ending 30 June. Telecommunications represented two-third of revenue but delivered less than half of earnings, while the combination of cloud and government services drove one-third of revenue but 53 percent of earnings.

The company runs three data centres, including its Intellicentre 4 'Bunker' in Canberra and is looking to "build or buy" a new Sydney facility.

Protection at scale

Tudehope claimed MacTel was the first "scale" cloud services provider to achieve Protected status.

It's a distinction from Sliced Tech and Vault Systems, two smaller, independent Australian companies that achieved Protected status in March, and a dig at Microsoft, which last month announced a major partnership with Canberra Data Centres to launch two Azure regions in the nation's capital.

Microsoft currently has more than 50 cloud services certified at the Unclassified level, including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 and is actively seeking Protected status.

Some 40 Microsoft cloud services have been audited by IRAP assessor Shearwater Solutions, with the assessor recommending 25 of these for Protected certification and the other 15 requiring further work.

"We’re still working to finalise this certification process with Australian Signals Directorate and for clarity it is important to be aware that Microsoft Azure is not certified at Protected level by ASD. We still have work to do, but the pathway is understood," said James Kavanagh, Microsoft Azure engineering lead for Australia, last month.

Sliced Tech, the 2015 winner of the CRN Fast50, has leveraged its secure government credentials into a number of solid wins, including a $5 million deal with the Clean Energy Regulator and a $3.3 million deal with the National Capital Authority.

Vault Systems is a wholesaler that provides highly secure cloud services to government via partners.

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