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Australian government agency trials secure cloud service

The Digital Transformation Agency has become the first government agency in Australia to test the use of Microsoft Office 365 in a secure cloud environment

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Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has become the country’s first government agency to test the use of Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service for its secured email and collaboration needs.

Office 365 will give DTA personnel access to Exchange Online, SharePoint, Skype for Business and several Azure services, including Azure Key Vault and Azure Active Directory.

A pilot deployment for 20 DTA staff has been completed, and that is now being extended to a group of up to 40 users before a broader agency-wide roll-out to more than 200 DTA employees later this year.

The Office 365 service being trialled by DTA was developed together with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Delivery Quality Assurance (DQA), a Microsoft software partner.

Jean-Pierre Simonis, DQA’s chief technology officer and director of federal services, said the Office 365 service being tested at DTA provides a template for other agencies that need to collaborate, communicate and work on protected documents and data from within a secure cloud environment.

This includes staff from other agencies working with DTA on initiatives such as the digital identity programme that is currently under development.

The move to deploy Office 365 comes after the cloud service was certified to run protected workloads in April 2018 by the Australian Signals Directorate. This follows the release of the federal government’s secure cloud strategy in February 2018 that focuses on preparing agencies for the shift to cloud, and supporting them through the transition.

George Stavrakakis, director of public sector at Microsoft Australia, said there has been “mounting interest” from government in using Office 365 at the protected level as a “platform for secure and resilient computing, as well as an accelerant for service and enterprise transformation”.

“The solution that Delivery Quality Assurance has developed for DTA demonstrates to other agencies how to establish a cloud-based, protected computing ecosystem that can support inter- and intra-department communication and collaboration and drive enterprise efficiency.”

Read more about public sector IT in Australia

The software giant recently opened two Microsoft Azure cloud regions in Australia to support the mission-critical demands of government and critical national infrastructure.

The regions are located in the Australian-owned facilities of Canberra Data Centres, the only private datacentres in Australia with controls at the personnel, physical, information and governance levels required for handling government data. Government agencies using the intra-government communications network can also connect directly to Azure in Canberra.

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