Wednesday, 22 August 2018 20:12

Microsoft set to host Govpass trial after DTA adopts Azure Featured

Microsoft set to host Govpass trial after DTA adopts Azure Pixabay

Microsoft is set to provide cloud hosting for the trial of the Federal Government's Govpass ID solution in October, after the Digital Transformation Agency, the government agency that will oversee implementation of the ID solution, announced that it had adopted the company's Azure service as its cloud solution.

In what could be a rushed statement on Wednesday evening, attributed to Human Services Minister Michael Keenan — one of the many who have offered to resign from Cabinet following a leadership spill on Tuesday and thus unsure of how long he will be in the job — it was announced that the DTA would shift its day-to-day operations onto Microsoft's Office 365 at Protected level.

Microsoft gained Protected cloud status from the Australian Signals Directorate in April for its Office 365 and Azure services. Questions were raised about the certification after the ASD issued a consumer guide containing a number of fiats about the services.

There has been speculation about who would host the Govpass trial after Vault, an Australian firm that has Protected cloud status, was unceremoniously kicked out of the job. Vault came to know that it would no longer be doing the job on 7 August. Vault was slated to be the cloud provider while the implementation was handed to the Department of Human Services and the Australian Taxation Office with the DTA to be the overseer.

The government allocated $92.4 million in the recent Federal Budget to see the project through to completion.

Thus far, after Vault was dumped, the only thing that could be extracted from the DTA was: "A pilot of the end-to-end digital Tax File Number application process featuring the Govpass identity provider, myGovID, is expected to begin in October this year. The Australian Taxation Office will the be first provider of myGovID. More trials will follow next year."

In a statement sent to iTWire on Thursday morning, a DTA spokesperson said: "...the DTA's adoption of Microsoft 365 Protected is not related to the digital identity program. The DTA will be using Office 365 for corporate functions."

Wednesday's DTA statement said the move towards cloud-based services "is a core component of the Turnbull Government’s Digital Transformation Agenda and the DTA’s early adoption will serve as a 'proof point' for other agencies also seeking to harness the benefits cloud systems can deliver".

"Microsoft’s new system offers a suite of integrated products that, for the first time, enable consolidation of the DTA’s systems onto one cost-effective and highly secure platform," it said.

"The DTA has already conducted successful trials of the technology and a full rollout is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

"The change will result in improved functionality and productivity, eliminating the need for staff to jump between different systems, depending on the security classification of the work being conducted.

"The old arrangements required staff to maintain two separate email accounts, as well as separate logins, passwords and calendars, which will no longer be necessary on the protected platform. In addition to increased productivity, the scalability of cloud services and the reduced maintenance costs associated with traditional on-premises systems will produce cost savings for the agency."

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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