SAP’s head in the cloud with $150m government data centre

By Jason Whittaker

Wednesday November 19, 2014

Global enterprise application giant SAP will invest $150 million in a new data centre and research institute in Canberra to support government agencies in digital engagement.

SAP says the centre, to open in the second quarter of next year, will “support federal, state and local agencies in Australia in executing on their cloud-first policies, as well as in their initiatives to eliminate waste and duplication of services, improve overall efficiency and effectiveness of government-delivered services and provide more value to taxpayers”.

It says the hub will develop best practices for the public sector in Australia and globally, in human capital management, finance, asset and case management. Some 50 federal agencies are currently served by SAP.

SAP will put 250 people into the office, including developers, solution architects and services professionals. Project teams will work in “virtual and physical innovation centres” aligned to policy areas in government. A showcase facility and briefing centre will house select outcomes from the innovation centres, including prototypes and proofs of concept leveraging cloud, mobile and analytics solutions.

Last month the federal government released a new cloud strategy enforcing the use of cloud systems “where it is fit for purpose, provides adequate protection of data and delivers value for money”.

“SAP aims to support Australian government with its future IT transformation into the cloud.”

“SAP aims to support Australian government with its future IT transformation into the cloud,” SAP CIO and managing board member Helen Arnold said in a statement. “The data centre is designed to fulfil the Australian government’s needs for capacity, security and data protection, as well as the capability to run innovative real-time applications with SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud in a private cloud environment.”

Human Services Minister Marise Payne called SAP’s plans a “big win for the government sector in Australia” at the announcement earlier this week, held at a reception of the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce attended by visiting German President Angela Merkel. Merkel also visited the federal government-funded NICTA organisation for IT development in Canberra.

Kevin Noonan, a public sector research director at consultancy Ovum, calls SAP’s plans a “substantial investment in leading-edge infrastructure and services”.

“Digital government is necessary because citizens are now digital citizens. A digital community expects to interact with government in different ways, and this creates new opportunities to improve service delivery while continuing to drive cost savings. This is a fundamental change, and it is causing governments around the world to rethink key aspects of government administration,” he said.

“This announcement addresses some of the important pieces of the digital government jigsaw by providing a secure onshore cloud platform, together with investment in local talent to develop new government services for both a local and global market.”

Andrew Barkla, president and managing director of SAP’s Australia and New Zealand brand, says governments have recognised the need to adapt services to meet higher expectations from the community. “SAP’s global technology leadership will meet Australian government’s strength in public services to deliver more value to taxpayers and redefine the digital experience for citizens,” he said.

More at The Mandarin: Head in the cloud: is government ICT capable of delivering?

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