Amazon hopes for cloudy outlook from Canberra

By Julian Bajkowski

Global cloud computing heavyweight Amazon Web Services (AWS) is mounting a concerted push into the federal government sector as agencies rapidly look for new ways to cut technology running costs while gaining the same sort of productivity and efficiency gains now being realised in the private sector.

The company has revealed the line-up for its first Public Sector Summit on Thursday 23rd in Canberra, a free event for public servants, government officials and policy makers that comes just a week after the Federal Budget was handed down to departments.

The overt push by AWS into the Australian public sector market is significant because it represents a substantial challenge to how incumbent software, infrastructure and hosting providers have traditionally done business with agencies who are now more reliant on technology than ever before.

The period immediately before an election, especially if there is a real possibility of a change of government, is a strategically important time for technology suppliers and the public service because it provides an opportunity to weigh-up new ideas and solutions that an incoming government may warm to as part of a reform process.

Few issues have hit governments from behind as fast as cloud computing which has enabled corporations large and small to radically downsize their software licensing and infrastructure costs by moving to a utility-style service where buyers pay for what they actually use rather thanforking out for latent capacity.

While Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is yet to officially release the Gillard government’s cloud computing and digital economy paper that will form the basis for future policy settings, the government has made little secret of its desire to harness the transformational potential of cloud computing for business, government and service delivery providers.

Thursday’s shindig by AWS is the first time the company has brought its Worldwide Public Sector Summit to Australia, a move clearly intended to underscore the company’s credentials and capabilities to public servants and their masters at time when large incumbent providers like Microsoft, Google, Adobe and IBM are all on the nose with politicians over profit shifting that facilitates peppercorn tax receipts for the government.

The charm offensive comes less than six months after Senator Conroy cut the ribbon on a new data centre for Equinix which is understood to be housing local point of presence for Amazon that would allow it to legitimately claim it can host client data onshore in Australia if necessary.
According to Amazon, its event in Canberra will be presented by implementation veteran Steven Halliwell, whon is AWS’ general manager for Worldwide Public Sector.

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