NSW is an innovator in cloud and public IT storage within the government sector. Until a decade ago or so, each agency owned their own data centre, and consequently, the process of storage was more complicated, inefficient and risky. Things began to change in 2013 when the NSW Government Data Centres (GovDC) built two consolidated data storage facilities in Silverwater (Sydney) and Unanderra (Wollongong). All data was migrated to these data centres, though agencies still had control of their data.
GovDC was a huge success and innovation became further enhanced in 2015 to include infrastructure, allowing ease-of-access to the public cloud. This was succinctly followed by GovDC Marketplace. GovDC now hosts ICT infrastructure for over 27 agencies, 14 cloud service providers, 3 education institutions and 2 councils.
It is expected that GovDC will continue to evolve to be an aggregator of all these services, but it is also expected that it will no longer be bound to the confines of one or more data centres. Increasingly, agencies will seek to locate compute and storage close to where it is consumed. This will become important for departments like Health (given how progressive they are) and Education, where they will begin using technologies such as Virtual Reality. The practice of bringing data, compute and capability close to where it is consumed is known as ‘Edge’ or Edge Computing.
While GovDC has served NSW well, with the rise of IOT as well as a significant increase in the amount of data being created, it will be difficult to continue to centralise and distribute all the data across GovDC or even across public cloud and Edge In fact, with the enhancements in the development of autonomous machines and AI even cloud may not be sufficient, and some experts are predicting that Edge will become bigger than cloud since it brings together all the localised capabilities.
GovDC was essentially developed to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, allowing all data to be stored in the same way. Now though, with technological enhancements and workloads oriented towards problem-solving in a more efficient way, public cloud and Edge are becoming much more popular.
To further this, the NSW Government developed the ‘Beyond Digital’ Strategy in 2019, designed to guide the use of digital technology across government and agencies to achieve better citizen outcomes. As the name suggests, the focus of the strategy is to use technology to go beyond simple digital advances. It now considers people, processes and governance elements, including the adoption of a whole-of-government view of service delivery, driving a culture of continuous improvement, and enhanced security and privacy foundations. The report is expanded on with the NSW Cloud Strategy document released recently.
The vision for the NSW Government, according to the strategy, is to ‘enable government-wide adoption of public cloud services in an aligned and secure manner, to accelerate innovation, modernise service delivery and drive better outcomes for the citizens of NSW’. Getting to that vision and combining all the available technologies will allow NSW to continue to be an innovator and technological reformer.
To review a broader perspective on state government IT infrastructure, read the report ‘A Seat at the Table’ here