Telstra abandons plan to build G Cloud for government

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Telstra abandons plan to build G Cloud for government

Telstra has essentially cancelled its plan to stand up a government cloud after spending several years struggling to get the platform certified for public sector data, multiple sources have told CRN.

The telco announced back in November 2014 that it would launch the cloud services platform, dubbed G Cloud, to offer services to federal, state and local government customers out of a new co-located facility in Canberra. G Cloud was expected to go live in early 2015.

The announcement of G Cloud came in response to the federal government's cloud-first policy introduced a month prior, which demands agencies adopt cloud technologies where fit for purpose.

Telstra at the time said it would initially focus on infrastructure-as-a-service incorporating compute and storage with connectivity through its managed secure network gateway, and would eventually expand into software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and unified communications.

The main selling point was that G Cloud would be certified to host 'unclassified' and 'protected' level workloads under the Australian Signals Directorate accreditation.

Cisco in 2016 announced it was pulling the plug on Intercloud – the hybrid cloud architecture on which Telstra developed G Cloud.

Sources told CRN the ASD would not certify a cloud platform based on a discontinued technology, which meant Telstra would need to completely rebuild G Cloud and go through the certification process once again.

The ASD, part of the Department of Defence, has awarded a handful of certifications to cloud providers to host unclassified and protected data.

Only three providers – Sliced Tech, Vault Systems and, most recently, Macquarie Telecom – have achieved protected status, while Microsoft, IBM, AWS, Salesforce and ServiceNow have certain services approved for unclassified workloads. Telstra does not appear on either list.

Telstra head of cloud platform Tim Otton told CRN that Telstra would not be pursuing the G Cloud platform initiative at this time.

"However, Telstra remains committed to servicing the needs of the public sector (federal, state and local governments) in Australia utilising our significant assets to serve these markets including secure operations centre(s), secure data centres, secure networks, secure gateways, tailored network and compute services," he said.

"Telstra will also build on the existing hybrid cloud capabilities such as Telstra Cloud Gateway, Telstra Virtual Storage, and our managed and professional services to add value to partner cloud services. Telstra will continue to work with individual agencies to understand their individual requirements and workloads to best determine the most appropriate solution fit."

Cisco Intercloud was launched in 2014 as the networking vendor's path into the highly contested public cloud market dominated by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The cloud integration platform was based on OpenStack.

A number of other major Australian IT providers were held up as the first Intercloud partners when it launched, including Dimension Data, who has its own government cloud platform, as well as Data#3 and Ethan Group.

Telstra isn't the first Australian company to run into trouble when Cisco pulled the pin on Intercloud.

Canberra cloud integrator Buttonwood Cloud Exchange also built its platform on Intercloud, which allowed customers to automate and manage workloads on AWS and Azure. The company was left high and dry after investing in the platform and was forced to develop its own native integration to support hyperscale providers to remove the reliance on third-parties.

Updated at 1:06pm 9 October to include comment from Telstra.

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