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Australian government launches cloud strategy

'The agenda that puts the internet at the centre of our economy' drones Minister

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Australia's minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has launched the country's first national cloud computing strategy – and has hooked the success of cloud computing in this country to the success and continued rollout of the government's fibre-based National Broadband Network.

Announcing the National Cloud Computing Strategy, Conroy called it “the agenda that puts the internet at the centre of our economy”, and said the right adoption strategies for cloud computing would add $AU3.3 billion to Australia's GDP by 2020.

“It recognises the NBN as the bedrock of that digital economy,” he said.

The strategy will put a premium on government's role as a customer to drive the rollout of large-scale cloud infrastructure. The Australian Government Information Management Office will be tasked with ensuring that that government departments consider the cloud option where possible.

But it's in the personal and small business adoption of cloud computing he believes the greatest changes will come. In an almost perfect imitation of a cloud computing salesman, Conroy said “Australians will create and use … cloud services to boost innovation across the digital economy”.

However, smaller businesses are currently behind the game, he believes, and will need support to acquire cloud services with confidence. As part of the strategy, Conroy said, the government will provide funding “for 10 industry peak bodies – to develop sector-specific digital business kits” to help “familiarise them with cloud computing”.

The government wants the industry to “establish a consumer protocol” for cloud computing, with the ACS to take a lead role, but noting that not just cloud and computer industry professionals but also consumer groups have a role in its development.

But he saved his strongest words for pitching the National Broadband Network at the centre of the strategy.

Signalling a new angle in trying to hold off Malcolm Turnbull's more-nuanced-than-destroying-the-NBN strategy, Conroy emphasised the need for decent upload speeds to support the growth of cloud computing (for example because 10 Mbps uploads are more useful for cloud-based backup than uploads of 1 Mbps).

“The NBN is like the power grid: you don't ask if your home or business has enough electricity,” Conroy said.

Whether or not the strategy will be strong enough to outlive the government, should it lose the September election, is yet to be seen. ®

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