The demands, expectations and security of government information and technology carry a different weighting of governance and public expectation. Microsoft Azure finally unleashes the capacity to deliver innovative and efficient solutions to radically improve government programs.
One of the greatest challenges for technology executives in the broader scheme of government life has traditionally come in proving the worth of their investment choices and efforts to policymakers and the public alike.
Rapidly increasing sophistication of ‘consumer’ technology now inherent in the everyday lives of customers, combined with the public nature of IT outages, has led to soaring expectations and a perception that technology really only gets noticed when something goes wrong.
That’s understandable, especially when technology now touches so much of what we do and how we do it. But what’s less understood are the very real demands on government which differ profoundly from that of a bank, app start up or supermarket.
Government customers can’t just up and walk to the next service provider.
Reform done right
At the same time, the security, integrity and uptime of sensitive government data and services have become more sacrosanct and scrutinized than ever.
Put simply, there’s a very different social contract when it comes to public services, expectations that technology is still navigating. But things are changing, quickly and for the better.
The good news is developments in cloud computing have finally come to a stage where the narrative can be flipped, and government executives can start talking about the positive changes they can drive and the new possibilities opening up.
Digital transformation programs are well underway in departments and agencies around Australia, increasingly based around the momentous and fresh opportunities offered by innovations in public cloud infrastructure.
Recent substantial investments in highly secure Canberra data centre facilities means local cloud capability is now on the ground where and when it’s needed.
Microsoft’s Azure is leading the charge.
Capable services and security fit for the future
The availability of practically unlimited amounts of computing power, agility to deploy applications and services, and cost busting flexibility means all departments can now start plotting a vision on future service delivery and actually deliver it quickly with confidence.
Crucially for government, Microsoft’s Azure is the only global cloud provider to deliver both high availability and disaster resilience, within country and distributed across multiple metropolitan regions with no compromise on data sovereignty.
For government senior executives and technology leaders the decision is now about what they want to do with the assured tech power at their fingertips rather than when it will eventuate and clear compliance hurdles.
There is a fresh opportunity to experiment and envision public value without the spectre of infrastructure costs lurking around every corner and committee. It’s a change that could not have come too soon.
Cloud verdict is in
One institution already tapping into the opportunities offered is the Supreme Court of Victoria, which is basing an ambitious digital transformation program on Azure.
The court is looking to connect all of its 34 courtrooms and install a digital case management solution that will streamline and substantively speed up the process of justice – a key area of friction across all jurisdictions.
Program director of digital strategy at the Supreme Court, Pauline Diano, says its digital transformation is essentially a total rebuild of its entire network infrastructure, combined with an end-to-end digitisation of the complete case workflow for all matters within the Court.
These matters stem from case initiation, to case management, electronic trials and then involve interfaces with other agencies and parties.
The improvements are eminently visible to all important stakeholders, from Diano’s own colleagues, to all of those who participate in the court system.
Doing justice to innovation
The power and capacity of Azure means the court is able to live-stream many matters at once and have multiple remote witnesses connected concurrently.
Importantly, the court only pays for this increased capacity when it is needed, unlike in pre-cloud days where an organisation had to provision technology to have headroom for peak usage 24/7.
“In Azure all the time it takes is to turn on those servers – and we only pay for what we use,” Diano says of the swiftness to scale-up as required.
“That agility and responsiveness in Courts is unprecedented globally. The whole program of work covers the lifecycle of a case including trial and Microsoft products are at the heart of the solution.”
Collaboration from the inside
Meanwhile, at the federal level the Department of Finance has opted to make Azure and Office 365 the basis of a new platform that will replace the government-wide collaboration service Govdex.
The service is integral to the functioning of government, enabling cross-departmental file sharing, the ability to keep track of tasks and projects and the centralised chat and collaboration software.
Department of Finance chief information officer John Sheridan says the software-as-a-service solution will allow the development of a service offering that is driven by, and responsive to, user needs.
“The new Govdex will provide Government employees and their industry partners with a modern collaboration environment through which they can connect, interact, and coordinate work efforts, seamlessly, across organisational and geographical boundaries,” Sheridan said in Finance’s blogged announcement.
“This will help drive public sector productivity and innovation.”
As agencies across Australia’s many jurisdictions embrace their long-awaited digital transformation to deliver better services more quickly, effectively and efficiently Microsoft’s commitment through Azure will be there for the journey.