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Western Australia government goes all-in on Microsoft

State agencies in Western Australia will be able to tap Azure cloud services and cloud applications through a new Microsoft agreement

The Western Australia (WA) government is expanding its use of Microsoft’s technologies in a new agreement that will let all its state agencies tap Azure cloud services and cloud applications including Office 365 and Dynamics 365.

Aligned with the state’s strategic digital goals, the agreement will improve efficiency across the public sector and lay the digital foundations for new citizen-centric services.

Most of WA’s state agencies are already using Microsoft Azure. They include the department of finance, which moved its workloads from some 850 on-premise servers to 330 virtual servers on Azure in 2019, enabling it to streamline processes and automate repetitive tasks.

At the same time, WA’s office of digital government has also signed a memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) with Microsoft to improve cyber security for the public sector and facilitate collaboration on initiatives to identify and eradicate cyber crime.

Together, the whole-of-government agreement and MoU are expected to shore up the cyber security posture of the state government, which is currently using Azure Security Centre and Azure Sentinel to glean security insights from 6.5 trillion signals collected by Microsoft daily.

Steven Worrall, managing director of Microsoft Australia, said: “We are delighted to be able to extend our long term relationship with the WA government ensuring that all agencies will have access to the sorts of high value digital technologies that can transform the way they operate and engage with citizens and businesses.

“The MoU will also elevate Western Australia’s cyber security posture by ensuring access to leading edge technology, real-time insights and the opportunity to collaborate on initiatives to target and eradicate cyber crime. Microsoft will also provide specialised security training to WA personnel and we look forward to working together on this important issue.”

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Microsoft has made inroads in Australia’s public sector in recent years. In 2018, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) became the first government agency in the country to test the use of Office 365 in a secure cloud environment.

This follows Microsoft’s earlier investments in two Azure cloud regions in Australia to support the mission-critical demands of government and critical national infrastructure.

Cloud rival Amazon Web Services (AWS) is also eyeing a slice of the pie. It was accredited by the Australian Cyber Security Centre last year, paving the way for wider adoption of public cloud services by government agencies and private sector organisations.

The accreditation affirmed AWS’s ability to handle data at the protected security classification level, through 42 services spanning compute, storage, network, database, security, analytics, application integration, management and governance.

More recently, the DTA worked with AWS to develop the federal government’s CovidSafe contact tracing app, which remains hosted on AWS despite data sovereignty concerns.

A government spokesperson later told the media that “uploaded contact information will be stored in Australia in highly secure servers and protected by additional laws to restrict access to health professionals only”.

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