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ATO goes mission critical in the public Cloud with AWS

Chris Player | Aug. 22, 2016
Moves critical infrastructure to the public Cloud with help of Accenture and IBM

ATO deputy commissioner of service operations, Craig Fox, talking about the institution's Cloud journey

ATO deputy commissioner of service operations, Craig Fox, talking about the institution's Cloud journey

The Australian Tax Office has moved its mission critical applications to public Cloud, running its processes on Amazon Web Services with the help of IBM's integrator business and Accenture.

ATO deputy commissioner of service operations, Craig Fox, said the organisation had initially worked with another integrator, Accenture, as part of a pilot program used to determine the effectiveness of the solution.

Fox said the testing process was to determine which processes could be automated on AWS, leading to a full-scale deployment of public Cloud at the business.

According to Fox, the Cloud journey of the ATO was primarily driven by an executive decision to move off premise.

"We are primarily a heavily sourced infrastructure business," he said. "We do a lot of that through sourced IT partners and we have had those arrangements for the best part of 15 years.

"The partnership we currently have is one between AWS and IBM who are supporting the ATO in its current business operations."

Currently, the ATO has a direct relationship with AWS, with Fox anticipating this to continue for the foreseeable future.

The ATO began sourcing out to Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which was later acquired by HP, in 1999-2000.

Fox said the policy of digital by default and Cloud first were two strong drivers for the agency in the context of its Cloud journey.

This drive was headed by Chris Jordan, the tax commissioner appointed in 2012, who launched a reinvention of the ATO's program through to the year 2020. At the time the process was focussed on digital but has subsequently moved to a focus on Cloud.

Fox said the the ATO did not choose AWS at first, but started from a position of a Cloud first policy.

The decision to go with the public Cloud provider was then taken as a result of a tender which was won by IBM and Accenture, with bids from both including AWS deployments.

The ATO is one of the first Federal Government institutions to implement this digital first and Cloud first strategy and may pave the way for other institutions to follow suit.

AWS worldwide head of public sector, Mark Ryland, said that as the vendor expanded operations globally, it often sees such patterns of adoption.

"To get widespread adoption there is a consistent pattern we have seen around the globe," he said.

"First of all, there will be government officials who realise the power and impact of Cloud and initially work on definitions.


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