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Australian Government Commits to Cloud Computing

Innovation Council Touts Cloud as Hyper-Aggressive NBN Moves Forward

There is "a window of opportunity for Australia to be the the global leader in the creation and adoption of cloud computing innovation," according to a recent report from the federal government's IT Industry Innovation Council.

Australia is rich in natural resources and one of the least densely populated countries in the world, which has allowed it citizens to build a wealthy economy and stable society without having to become a world-beating manufacturer or innovation center. Knowing that this economic model may not last forever, the Council's report says "there is a need to engender a sense of urgency and clear political leadership in this debate."

Centering the Data
Datacenters are one measure of a movement toward coud, and Melbourne-based NextDC has emerged as a leader, recently announcing plans for sites in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, and Perth. Equinix, based in Redwood City, CA and known as a major cloud host through its 20+ US-based sites, also has datacenters in Sydney and is planning to expand to Melbourne. The Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky Labs is also planning a new site in Australia.

The nefarious USA Patriot Act is seen (if not explicitly mentioned) as a driver of local cloudy datacenters in Australia, too, with a recent report bringing up the issue of data sovereignty, and by extension, the potential problems of locating Australian data in the US.

The Council report states that cloud won't happen in Australia by dint of techies along, noting "there needs to be a strong pull from the non-ICT sector in terms of understanding the fundamental business benefits of Cloud adoption, including operational efficiencies, greater reach into markets, cost reduction, reduced risk of IT investment with pay-as-you-go pricing, and greater flexibility to handle changes in business conditions."

It cites IDC research from September 2011 that found more than 20 percent of respondents already using cloud computing-albeit there was not a breakout of how many of those respondents rely on cloud-bsaed email as the extent of their commitment.

The Bandwidth Issue
Bandwidth is another measure of national commitment to IT in general and cloud computing in particular. In this area, Australia has a mediocre present and insanely optimistic vision for the future.

According to figures from bandwidth monitor Ookla, Australia's average bandwidth of about 8.6Mbps trails both the US and Canada by more than 30 percent. On an adjusted basis that accounts for the amount of bandwidth delivered weighed against societal wealth, Australia finishes 57th among 82 countries that I surveyed, on a par with Egypt and Argentina.

In my Tau Index research, which balances per capita income with bandwidth and societal factors such as income disparity and corruption, Australia finished 52nd, in the neighborhood of the developing nations India, South Africa, and Jordan.

In counterpoint, the IT Industry Innovation Council report states that the Australian government "has a commitment to position Australia as a leading digital economy by 2020 (through) the National Digital Economy Strategy (NDES) (and) sets the National Broadband Network (NBN)."

The NBN, which I once described as a lunatic plan, may be the most aggressive bandwidth provisioning idea in the world. It is envisioned to provide as much as a gigabit-per-second to individual customers, reaching 93 percent of them by 2021.

Even 100Mbps would be 12X the amount of bandwidth delivered today. Additionally, the world's highest current bandwidth is on the order of 30Mbps, found in South Korea.

The network is expected to cost in the neighborhood of US$36 billion, with about 80 percent of that coming from the government. In a nation of 22 million people, that works out to more than US$1,600 per person.

Well, we all have dreams, don't we?

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My dream is that you follow me on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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