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Accelerating cloud deployment for the New Zealand government

A cloud-first strategy directs organisations to deliver applications and services from a cloud computing platform first before considering any on-premise alternatives.

While several considerations – like the threat of a data breach or data loss – could cause concern from using the cloud in sensitive industries, such as finance, the growing consensus is that a cloud-first approach has considerable advantages and in many cases is more secure for organisations than trying to protect their own infrastructure.

The New Zealand government Cloud-First requires its agencies to use public cloud services and to accelerate their adoption of public cloud services, in a balanced way, so they can drive digital transformation. This includes:

  • enhancing customer experiences
  • streamlining operations
  • creating new delivery models

With massive investments made into digital infrastructure by major global software companies, hyperscale cloud providers are keen to make their services available in New Zealand. These developments could prove to be a ‘game-changer’ for the nation’s digital transformation journey. Hyperscale cloud and sophisticated infrastructure would have a significant impact on digital maturity and accelerate the use of cloud in government.

To support and guide these developments, the Digital Public Service (DPS) branch at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is working collaboratively with partner functional leads to chalk out a detailed strategy to update policy and system settings for cloud technology. This will include new guidance for the use of cloud by government agencies.

Developing an all-of-government Cloud Centre of Excellence

The New Zealand government cloud programme supports public service agencies to accelerate the use and benefits of cloud in line with government’s policy.

Under the Cloud-First policy, government organisations are required to use public cloud services as the go-to strategy. They are required to adopt these services individually for the various services and offerings on hand after assessing all possible issues. The Cloud First policy requires government organisations to:

  • adopt public cloud services in preference to traditional IT systems
  • make adoption decisions on a case-by-case basis following a risk assessment
  • only store data classified as RESTRICTED or below in a cloud service, whether it is hosted onshore or offshore

The focus for the 2 years will be to establish an all-of-government Cloud Centre of Excellence, that would support agencies to successfully execute well-designed and governed cloud migrations. Currently, the Digital Public Service branch is working actively with agencies to assist them with their cloud adoption planning and to facilitate collaboration on common cloud-related challenges.

Cloud programme partnerships

The programme will also specifically explore engaging with cloud providers to refresh and continually improve New Zealand’s access to cloud services. Where necessary, public service policies will be adjusted suitably and will a range of agreed ‘Lighthouse’ innovation partnerships will be progressed.

These partnerships, early in their lifecycle, are in the areas of education, environment, business and land. The overseeing agencies will determine how best to couple hyperscale cloud with advanced technologies to deliver solutions that would have significant national impact.

To build further capability and capacity for these initiatives the DPS branch will be recruiting key positions for the programme.

The DPS also encourages digital innovation through its Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund (DGP). The fund is a $5 million contestable fund that invests in digital and data innovation. It provides an opportunity for government organisations to collaborate and invest in early-stage, cross-agency pilots and prototypes. It’s administered by the Digital Public Service (DPS) branch at the Department of Internal Affairs.

Any proposed initiative under the fund should also demonstrate innovation (the fund is not for business-as-usual), cross-agency collaboration, benefits to the public service or sector that will support transformation and must align with relevant standards, such as the NZ Government Digital Service Design Standard.

The Digital Public Service (DPS) branch at the Department of Internal Affairs is also engaging with a selection of government organisations this month to get feedback on the current and future states of digital standards maintenance and development.

This work will result in an implementation plan and roadmap for standards which will be released to all public sector organisations for consultation in early December 2020.

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