By Julian Bajkowski and Paul Hemsley
Up to ten Queensland local councils will soon be able tap-into new cloud computing infrastructure to keep vital technology systems safe from harm during disasters under a landmark local government deal.
The deal allows the local governments to store and control data from remote locations to keep communication, operation and management systems up-and running as part of an overhaul of council disaster recovery and resilience facilities.
The loss of communications and information technology systems during natural disasters like floods has become a matter of urgent focus after Queensland’s recent floods because the loss of services and information directly impedes the coordination of relief efforts.
Because cloud computing stores and processes data off-site across multiple locations, the networks used by council are able to stay up-and-running even when offices that would normally house equipment are underwater or burnt out.
The new cloud system in Queensland has been provided by GOVCLOUD, a commercial services venture that is a partnership with the Local Government Association of Queensland.
The deal is a highly significant development in public sector computing across Australia because it provides a model that allows local governments to collaboratively acquire computing systems and services.
It also puts the local government sector well-ahead of its state and federal peers which are still attempting to thrash out common standards for cloud computing platforms across agencies.
A key element of the GOVCLOUD system is the creation of the ‘Redundant Systems for Disaster Scenarios’ (RSDS) project.
Jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments under the Natural Disaster Resilience Program, the project is aims to improve local government information technology resilience and disaster recovery abilities during times of crisis.
GovCloud chief executive, Scott Wilkie said the deal meant that the councils will be able to operate “anytime and anyplace before, during and after a disaster”.
Mr Wilkie said the move to cloud was essential for the protection of lives and assets.
So far five local councils have completed their cloud solution implementation including Toowoomba Regional Council, which was hit hard by the 2010-2011 Queensland floods.
Functions available in the resilient cloud solution include cloud based disaster recovery, backup, website hosting, application hosting and e-mail.
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