Finance picks Salsa partner for GovCMS next steps

Collingwood agency takes platform lead from Acquia

The Department of Finance has selected Collingwood agency Salsa Digital to operate the  whole-of-government content management system GovCMS.

Salsa was announced as the winner of the three year contract last night, and will provide software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS), hosted in Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Sydney data centres.

The Drupal-based platform had been hosted by Acquia since 2015. Finance went to tender for GovCMS operators in February.

Under the new hosting arrangements, which will be available to customers before the end of this year, Salsa Digital will deliver program, application, and support services, and subcontractor – a Drupal hosting specialist based in Switzerland – will provide the platform and hosting.

The Salsa solution will put GovCMS onto an open source platform –’s open platform, Lagoon – “making the entire technology stack open source for the first time” Salsa said.

Finance said it would first manage the migration of existing SaaS websites onto the new platform, before working with agencies to migrate PaaS sites.

“This is a huge milestone for Salsa Digital as a company, and an exciting contribution to the open government and open source movement in Australia,” said Alfred Deeb, Salsa Digital founder and director.

“We’re strong believers of open source for social good and innovation and know that our new platform, which will be built in conjunction with, will deliver many benefits to Australian citizens and government agencies,” he added.

The company last week launched the Victorian government’s ‘Single Digital Presence’, working with Victoria’s Department of Premier and Cabinet.

“The Victorian project with DPC gave us a great opportunity to realise our shared vision of a unified and open platform for Victoria. Now we can build on that even further with the Commonwealth for the next-generation GovCMS,” Deeb said.

The new GovCMS regime will leverage a range of open source tools, including Docker, Lagoon, OpenShift (Kubernetes) and GitLab, Finance said.

“GovCMS websites will operate in a fully containerised environment which will reduce and simplify agency development efforts, with the same setup and configuration across environments,” Finance said.

According to a technical summary of the new GovCMS, issued by Finance, it will have the addition of elasticity and autoscaling, to automatically increase or decrease the amount of resources needed.

“This can be triggered by a momentary surge in traffic to a site (or several sites) and will automatically scale down once the spike is over,” the summary states.

There will also be “new processes and iterative improvements” including automated regression testing and a new support desk tool.

“Finance is also exploring opportunities to embed automated visual regression and accessibility testing in the site deployment workflow,” the department said.

The GovCMS platform is currently used by 77 government agencies, supporting 223 live websites, with 37 more in development. co-founder and CTO Michael Schmid said the announcement marked a “special day for open source”.

“The Department of Finance’s decision to use Lagoon clearly shows the need for open source platforms in the hosting market. We’re looking forward to working with Salsa Digital on this project and to contributing the features we will implement, so that the entire community can benefit,” he added.

Finance will be holding an information session on the changes to the platform in Canberra in September. A separate session will be arranged to brief industry, interested developers and the open source Drupal community later this year.

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Tags procurementopen sourcefinancedrupalacquiafederal governmentwhole-of-governmentDepartment of FinanceGovCMSSalsa

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