Big-app demands will drive government to cloud: Amazon

By GovTechReview Staff
Monday, 26 November, 2012

Concerns around data sovereignty may have driven government caution around cloud deployments in the past, but the availability of locally-hosted cloud platforms will quickly drive them towards major application deployments, the head of Amazon Web Services' (AWS') government business has forecasted.

The company recently debuted a hosted AWS platform in Sydney, which adds to the company's broad geographical spread around the world and allows Australian organisations to specify controls that will keep their data and applications within Australian borders.

This capability has already proved popular with government organisations that are clamouring to capitalise upon cloud platforms' easy setup of development-and-test machines. However, in the longer term AWS worldwide vice president for the public sector Teresa Carlson says trends like the need to manage big data, and a desire to modernise core applications, will push government bodies much further onto the cloud.

"In meeting with Australian government customers I'm hearing that they want to be able to start creating sandbox environments, and get their engineers and partners to really understand the workloads they could use AWS for," she told GTR. "The great thing about this model is that you can just get going. It's not difficult to try it out and begin to design, develop, and deploy solutions on it."

With sovereignty issues resolved, Carlson expects that government bodies will progressively deploy larger and larger applications because the cloud environment lets them be developed iteratively, as opposed to the monolithic development processes of the past.

"In government you're often seeing the failure of big applications," she said, "where they've spent millions of dollars developing a system that they couldn't then take into production because it wasn't set up in an environment where they could test it out before going into production."

The availability of an Australian server will also benefit local customers because it will significantly slash the latency of access to hosted platforms. Australian government bodies "really like" AWS Direct Connect, the company service that allows large enterprises to run a fibre or other connection directly into the AWS data centre – bypassing conventional routing delays and delivering an instant application experience that's managed as a conventional virtual LAN.

Also on the boil is Glacier, Amazon's low-latency platform for storing massive amounts of information that's not regularly used. Retrieval time for Glacier, which Carlson said will be available in Australia "very soon", is on the order of three to four hours, compared with the on-demand storage of AWS' on-demand S3 cloud-storage service. That makes it best suited for storage of large-scale data sets and archival records that are infrequently used but must be retained for governance or other reasons. US pricing for Glacier storage is as little as $0.01 per GB per month.

Whereas AWS has traditionally been available to Australians on a casual, ad hoc basis, Carlson said the increasing presence of AWS will be accompanied with a higher level of engagement with local government bodies.

"Government is a core target for us, and it's a unique market where you really need to understand their requirements," she said. "We will be working across specific governmental applications to work directly in helping them design and architect their solutions, and we'll share best practices and design knowledge. We'll help them take advantage of the big data they have, to make it available and much more usable with working in the cloud space."

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