DTA opts for Microsoft’s secure cloud service


Federal Minister for Cybersecurity Angus Taylor Cyber announces Azure’s accreditation to Protected level.

The Digital Transformation Agency is putting its cloud-first policy into practice, becoming the first federal agency to embrace Microsoft’s newly-accredited secure cloud service.

The DTA is shifting its day-to-day operations onto Microsoft’s Office 365 at Protected Level platform, which was granted protected status by the Australian Signals Directorate in April.

According to a statement issued by the Minister for Digital Transformation, Michael Keenan, the Digital Transformation Agency is putting its cloud-first policy into practice, becoming the first federal agency to embrace Microsoft’s newly-accredited secure cloud service.

The accrediting of Microsoft’s Azure cloud service to protected status has been controversial, with public questions about the ASD security (IRAP) clearance process and the protocols required of Microsoft, a US-based company.

Ministers have been frustrated at the slow transition to more secure cloud-based services, and have been keen to fast-track the IRAP process. Large vendors such as Google and IBM have also been waiting over 18 months for protected clearance.

Microsoft dominates the PC desktop environment in the federal government and its “protected” clearance has given it a major competitive advantage.  A number of smaller vendors have also won protected status, including Vault, Macquarie Telecom, Sliced Tech and the larger Japanese-owned firm, Dimension Data.

“The move towards cloud-based services is a core component of the Government’s Digital Transformation Agenda and the DTA’s early adoption will serve as a “proof point” for other agencies also seeking to harness the benefits cloud systems can deliver,” the statement said.

The statement said Microsoft’s new system would offer a suite of integrated products that, for the first time, enable consolidation of the DTA’s systems onto one cost-effective and highly secure platform.

The DTA has already conducted successful trials of the technology and a full rollout is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The change will result in improved functionality and productivity, eliminating the need for staff to jump between different systems, depending on the security classification of the work being conducted.

The old arrangements required staff to maintain two separate email accounts, as well as separate logins, passwords and calendars, which will no longer be necessary on the protected platform.

In addition to increased productivity, the scalability of cloud services and the reduced maintenance costs associated with traditional on-premises systems will produce cost savings for the agency.

The DTA was an early adopter of the Google collaboration suite, which includes its desktop solution, Google docs and Google sheets.

Top image: Federal Minister for Cybersecurity Angus Taylor announcing Azure’s accreditation to protected status.

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