Why government organisations use public cloud services
Public cloud services provide scalable, secure and highly resilient infrastructure tools and web applications — Cabinet requires government organisations to use them, when possible, for information systems.
Cloud services, or cloud computing, are models for creating widely available, convenient and on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources.
Cloud-based tools and applications
A shared pool of computing resources is often delivered as infrastructure tools and applications, which include:
- data storage
- service management
- analytics and intelligence.
Types of cloud services
Cloud services can be based in private or public models, or a combination of both, hybrid.
Private cloud services
Your organisation sets up, owns and maintains its computing resources, sharing its infrastructure and applications through its private network.
Public cloud services
Your organisation accesses, through the internet, the computing resources that a third-party provider sets up, owns and maintains.
The Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) sets out guidance covering public cloud services:
- immediate benefits
- long-term benefits
- requirement by Cabinet for government organisations to use them, when possible, for information systems.
Help with public cloud services
In addition to the information on Digital.govt.nz, the GCDO has set up a network for learning about using public cloud services.
Immediate benefits of using public cloud services
Public cloud services help government organisations to:
- reduce their costs — using economies of scale
- increase the mobility of their workforces — accessing the services anywhere there’s an internet connection
- get people working together more easily — working in different teams, buildings and government networks
- quickly adapt their services — setting them up without the cost of establishing and maintaining the hardware, software and supporting infrastructure
- improve the security of their information systems — public cloud services from global providers are typically more secure than traditional information technology (IT) systems
- strengthen the resilience of their services — managing their risks, if any happen, reducing the impacts.
Long-term benefits of using public cloud services
Using public cloud services will actively contribute to New Zealand’s long-term Strategy for a Digital Public Service by:
- creating an agile public service — being more efficient in operations and flexible in service delivery models will create better experiences for New Zealanders with government services
- keeping business continuity for the services delivered by government organisations — staff are able to work wherever there’s an internet connection in resilient, secure and efficient ways
- strengthening the Māori–Crown relationship — respecting and taking into account Te Tiriti and Māori data rights when adopting and using public cloud services
- building New Zealand’s digital economy — boosting this area of growth and attracting investments, such as hyperscale data centres, in New Zealand from cloud service providers.
Checking if public cloud services are right for information systems
When deciding on how an information system will operate, the New Zealand government’s Cabinet decisions require government organisations to:
- adopt public cloud services in preference to traditional IT systems
- make adoption decisions on a case-by-case basis following a risk assessment
- only store data classified as RESTRICTED or below in a public cloud service, whether it’s hosted onshore or offshore.
Risk assessments and classifying information
Since only data that’s classified as RESTRICTED or below can be used with a public cloud service, classifying information in your organisation is essential. You’ll need to know classification levels for information systems before doing their risk assessments.
Make sure that your staff are trained in understanding information classification levels — it’s essential for managing risks when using public cloud tools and applications.