Australian economy ‘not big enough’ to be cloud hub

Local organisations must get used to housing data offshore, bureaucrats warn

The Australian economy may not be large enough to warrant international vendors launching dedicated data centres to provide cloud services to the local and Asia Pacific markets, a senior federal government bureaucrat has warned.

The chair of the Australian Government’s cyber security department, Mike Rothery, speaking at the recent World Computer Congress 2010 in Brisbane, said domestic businesses would need to get used to the idea of their data being hosted outside of Australia.

“There are issues in the cloud that have been not mentioned before, and this is the international element of it,” he said. “The industry is telling me that the Australian economy is probably not big enough to be a centre for cloud warehousing in itself."

“There are also some questions about sovereignty around where your data is, who has jurisdiction over it and which legal jurisdiction is privy to it.”

Rothery’s comments were made during a panel discussion which included renowned cloud author, Nicholas Carr, among other prominent local industries figures such as Sabeena Oberoi from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Echoing Rothery’s comments, Oberoi said the physical of location of customer data was less an issue, rather, issues related to ownership and security of data security were shared responsibilities.

“The challenge for us in the government is to look at issues such as whether the community at large are using the right technology,” she said. “It’s a shared responsibility that affects more than one area of government.

“With the benefits come the jurisdiction issues of cloud. The very cross-jurisdiction of cloud makes it very difficult to have any of these contractual arrangements in place.”

Oberoi's comments are in line with the view, often expressed by US-based cloud vendor, that data hosted offshore was a non-issue when it came to issues such as data sovereignty.

In October, Zach Nelson, CEO of cloud provider NetSuite, detailed the company’s decision to run its solution solely out of the United States, saying Australian companies are more concerned about the availability of data rather than the location of it.

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Tags Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital EconomyAttorney-General's Departmentcloud securitygovernmentnetappData Centrecloud storage

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