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Australia government moots cloud marketplace

The Digital Transformation Agency is planning a cloud marketplace for Australian government agencies to acquire a broader range of cloud services through a new procurement model

The Australian government is planning to set up a cloud marketplace to make it easier and faster for government agencies to buy a broader range of public cloud services, including those supplied by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In a discussion paper released on 17 October 2019, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) said the marketplace will replace the current the Cloud Services Panel (CSP), which hosts more than 500 cloud services from over 240 suppliers.

Out of these suppliers, more than 70% are SMEs and have facilitated more than A$134m in government cloud contracts since 2015.

The CSP, however, was based on the 2011 US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology’s definition of what a cloud service should be, covering well-defined services such as cloud-based infrastructure, platform and software offerings.

In reviewing the business case to extend the use of the CSP, the DTA highlighted the emergence of new services described as “anything-as-a-service”, and the shift in sourcing arrangements towards marketplaces rather than traditional supplier panels, as some of the driving forces behind the proposed marketplace.

“The new arrangement will better suit industry developments and respond to the changing needs of agencies,” the DTA said, adding that the marketplace will offer cloud services, cloud consulting services, as well as managed services which government technology buyers are now more ready to adopt.

Suppliers on the cloud marketplace will be chosen based on a range of criteria, including their commercial stability and viability; capacity to deliver at scale and meeting government requirements; and capability and credentials, including skilled and experienced personnel.

As the marketplace reflects changes to the government’s approach to buying cloud services, the DTA said it cannot transition sellers from the current arrangement to the new marketplace.

Sellers on the current CSP should note that it will cease operations at the end of its term in March 2020, with only one 12-month extension available, it added.

The Australian government has been one of the keenest adopters of cloud computing in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2018, the DTA became the country’s first government agency to test the use of Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service for its secured email and collaboration needs.

To assuage security concerns of government agencies, the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Australian Signals Directorate maintains a list of cloud services that have been certified to meet stringent government security requirements.

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