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Privacy fears stall cloud computing for government

Slow change heralds cloudy weather

Policy and legislation are the ball and chain behind the government's adoption of cloud computing, according to Summergreene, who oversaw the development of Queensland's $1.2 billion a year Transport Registration and Integrated Licensing System (TRAILS) system.

"The IT is the easy part; I am more concerned about policy and legislation and business rules. It requires good consistent governance and an understanding of the total costs, including the cost of change," Summergreene said. He said applications could be made available to all areas of government by a mix of software-as-a-service and cloud computing.

The number of applications within government must be cut back before the cloud becomes viable for the public sector. "We've got every version of every platform under the sun somewhere in government," Chapman said. "It's a big task to get just he applications we need on one platform."

While panellists agreed that international bandwidth links will improve despite Australia's isolation, they said an APAC cloud would need to rely on local data centres. Chapman said traffic would be reduced on international links if an Australian cloud operated on three or four large data centres inside the country.

However, a cloud network fenced-off by national boundaries "goes against the principles" of the technology, according to Dr Iannella. "You need to let the cloud go out if you want to offer the best price," he said. "But then you have the issues of privacy and security which could kill [the cloud]."

Standards will have to be ironed out by the federal government to avoid proprietary lock-in, according to Summergreene, before the cloud will take off. But the process will be slow, Dr Iannella said, because the creation of standards can take up to 10 years.

Heating, cooling and processing technology will need to become more green before the huge data centres — which Stone said may hold up to 300,000 servers each — can be built to support

Planting trees to offset carbon was deemed unsustainable by some panellists, while others suggested the data centres should be built inland or offshore where sunlight, sea water and wind can be used as natural sources power and cooling.

Panellists spoke at an event hosted by Invest Brisbane and Longhaus.

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