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Exclusive: AWS on Govt cloud migration in the A/NZ public sector

By Kai Ping Lew
Wed 13 Dec 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

As the New Zealand and Australia government come to terms with the importance of moving to the cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been with them every step of the way.

Recently at AWS’s re:Invent event, Techday had the opportunity to sit down with Peter Moore, AWS APAC and Japan regional managing director.

Moore spoke about the migration of government workloads to the cloud, cybersecurity, and AWS in the Australia and New Zealand public sectors.

AWS in APAC

AWS has data centers – which they refer to as availability zones (AZs) – in Australia, Singapore, Japan, India, and Korea, where it does a lot of work with public sector customers that need to have local infrastructure so their data doesn’t leave the country.

Moore says Australia and Singapore, in particular, are good examples of governments that have gone past the fear of the unknown and embraced cloud in important workloads.

Despite the fact that AWS doesn’t have a data center in New Zealand, Moore says the New Zealand government has been very sensible and recognised the trusting and co-operative relationship with the Australian government.

It’s recognised that Australia is a safe place to store and host data.

The New Zealand government concluded a cloud framework agreement with AWS in May, allowing agencies to use the AWS public cloud to enhance customer experience, streamline operations, and create new delivery models.

AWS in Australia

Australia recently carried out a postal vote asking its citizens if same-sex marriage should be legalised.

Those who couldn’t be accessed via post could cast their vote online through a survey hosted by AWS.

Moore says the Australian government was under strong pressure to show that they can roll out new systems, following the 2016 Australian Census debacle.

He adds that the project was carried out under budget and done well.

The Australian Taxation Offices also hosts its tax portals for consumers on AWS, and have been moving their critical systems onto AWS.

Migrating the government to the cloud

Moore says there are a number of steps governments need to go through if they want to use the cloud.

Firstly, the cloud infrastructure needs to meet the security requirements of government use.

AWS has 58 global accreditations for cloud security, and in Australia, it has met the requirement through iWRAP, which is a security risk assessment programme conducted by the Australian body responsible for assessing all IT use in the government.

It also has Unclassified DLM certification for cloud services, meaning it’s mapped all of its security controls with government security manuals, which gives its customers assurance that AWS meets the necessary requirements.

Secondly, the government needs to have a framework for procurement of cloud services.

In Australia, there’s the federal procurement cloud service panel, which AWS is a part of, and in each state it has procurement arrangements in place.

In New Zealand, AWS has the cloud framework agreement in place, allowing agencies wanting to use AWS to do so.

“So we’ve broken through the two most significant impediments governments would typically see when it comes to cloud adoption,” Moore says.

He adds that increasingly when larger agencies start using AWS, it validates the decision for more organisations to migrate to the cloud.

In this way, AWS has overcome the third barrier, which is broad adoption of the cloud.

Cybersecurity in the government cloud

In August this year, Australia’s cybersecurity head Alastair MacGibbon opened AWS’s Government Summit in Canberra.

He opened the summit saying he knew many government agencies were wondering if the cloud is secure enough to move to.

“The cloud is more secure than any of your existing on-premise infrastructure,” he told the audience.

Moore says there has been a real mind-shift in governments around the world this year.

“We have the largest number of certifications among cloud platforms, we’re continuing to innovate in security, and we’ve met every security certification we’ve been asked to meet around the world,” he says. 

AWS' innovations in cybersecurity this year include products like AWS Macie, which uses artificial intelligence to classify data; AWS Rekognition, which uses artificial intelligence for voice, face, and image recognition; and AWS Rekognition for Video, which analyses moving images. 

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