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Cloud computing is big business. People from all industries have found it to be an efficient way of filing and managing data.
In Australia, the cloud computing trend has shown no sign of slowing down. Instead, it seems only to be accelerating, with the adoption of cloud computing being officially endorsed by the country’s government.
This blog will explore what Australia is doing to manage the movement of organizations and individuals onto the cloud, how it is executing this plan, and what challenges they have faced along the way.
But, before we can examine the consequences of the vast Australian cloud migration, we need to know what cloud computing is and why it’s important.
What is Cloud Computing?
Put simply, cloud computing is the method by which users can use computing resources without the need for any physical infrastructure. This is achieved with the use of servers, software and applications that are available on a pay-per-use basis.
It is an attractive option for both businesses and individual users who do not have the resources to store and maintain costly hardware. Due to the fact that cloud computing is pay-per-use, it also means that users can scale their operations easily.
Due to its inexpensive nature and convenient implementation, cloud computing has changed the way organizations have structured their data management. It has been adopted on a wide scale globally, as it’s accessible regardless of location or hardware limitations.
Why is Australia Trending Toward Cloud Computing?
Since 2013, the Australian Government has made no secret of its desire to pursue a cloud-first strategy. As part of its 2021 Secure Cloud Strategy, the Government has stated that moving to the cloud will “generate a faster pace of delivery, continuous improvement cycles and broad access to services”.
In other words, it is hoped that the cloud will offer quicker internet speeds, better scalability and greater accessibility.
Concrete steps have already been taken to encourage providers to make the switch to the cloud. By the year 2025, it is expected that upwards of $14 billion dollars will be spent on cloud computing in Australia.
This does not just include private networks, but also public services, such as SaaS (software-as-a-service), PaaS (platform-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service). Huge hyperscalers, such as Microsoft and Google, are already fighting it out to dominate the market.
Australia’s Cloud Computing Policies and Recommendations
In order to protect the growing number of consumers that are using cloud services, a number of policies and recommendations have been put in place. Some of the most important to note are:
- Australian Consumer Law (ACL): The ACL holds providers to account for ensuring data protection, and makes them liable if they offer false promises about what level of security they have.
- Australian Privacy Principles (APP): According to the Australian Privacy Act 1988, businesses must protect their users’ personal information. There are cases where your cloud provider may not be obligated to follow these rules (if they have a turnover of less than $3 million), but it is advised that all companies should adhere to the APP guidelines.
- The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Cloud Computing Security Considerations: The ASD cloud computing considerations are aimed primarily at agencies who are looking to migrate to the cloud. It provides a list of cybersecurity recommendations by which you can assess which provider to use.
- The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Essential Eight: The ACSC Essential Eight is a list of eight separate controls that cloud-based businesses should implement to improve their security. Among the recommendations are multi-factor authentication and regular backups.
Challenges of Cloud Computing in Australia
There are a number of different challenges when it comes to migrating to the cloud network in Australia. These range from geographic challenges and security concerns to the lack of knowledge that many have around the importance of proper cloud management.
Let’s break these down in further detail:
Websites or services hosted on the cloud use data centers to physically store their data. These data centers also allow providers to run software applications and manage their infrastructure.
However, where a data center is located can impact the speed and stability of a connection. For example, data centers that are placed far from the user can lower latency and harm user experience. In a country as large as and sparsely populated Australia, this problem is particularly pronounced.
Over the last decade, the cloud hotspots in the country have mainly been New South Wales and Queensland, which are both located on the East Coast. This has meant that Australians on the West Coast have not had the same level of access to the Cloud.
But, this is changing. Companies like NextDC, CDC and DCI Data Centers are expanding into the South Australia region. For the latter, two new cloud facilities are being built in Adelaide, to pair with DCI’s existing cloud infrastructure there.
It is hoped that this move will help to distribute cloud computing access more evenly across the country. In the process, more and more users and agencies may begin to explore the benefits of the cloud, helping to meet the Australian government’s aim.
One of the most fundamental risks to data centers is climate change. Australia is a country known for its unpredictable weather, and global warming will only increase the likelihood of weather-related incidents, such as storms or wildfires.
As sites where important personal and public information is stored, it is imperative that data centers take protective measures. As well as this, they should be strategically located, to maximize coverage and minimize risk.
With this in mind, each cloud data center built in at-risk areas needs to undertake a Technology Vulnerability Risk Assessment (TVRA), which outlines all preventative actions they should implement.
Data Security Concerns
There has been particular attention paid to data security concerns with the Australian cloud migration. This has followed the mass exodus from Sydney data center Global Switch, following its 2016 Chinese-backed takeover.
The move from Global Switch, which included the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA), was caused by concerns of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands. There’s no doubt that this issue will be ever present as more and more providers make the switch.
What’s Next for Cloud Computing in Australia?
The big push for cloud migration is well underway in Australia, and the recent trend of spreading services around the country only goes to prove this. The next couple of decades are likely to see cloud computing go from strength to strength, both in terms of popularity and security.
If its history is anything to go by, there will be further teething problems with widespread cloud migration that will need addressing. But, with the regulatory framework and the full support of the Australian government behind it, there’s no reason why users have anything to fear by making the switch.
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