The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) will be the first Australian Government agency to deploy Office 365 for Protected email and collaboration, taking advantage of the platform’s Protected certification, awarded by the Australian Signals Directorate earlier this year.

The DTA, which is charged with working with federal departments to make it easier for people to transact with the Government, is currently piloting Office 365 for use at Protected level ahead of an agency-wide deployment scheduled for later this year.

Established in 2015, the DTA has wide ranging responsibilities to help government departments and agencies undergo digital transformation. Today, the DTA also has oversight of the government’s ICT agenda.

Cloud computing is playing an important role in both areas.

The Federal Government’s Secure Cloud Strategy, released in February, illustrates how cloud offers reusable digital platforms at a lower cost and shifts service delivery to a faster more reliable digital channel. The Strategy notes that cloud services could help government be more responsive, convenient, available and user focused.

The DTA, which has taken a cloud first approach since its inception and provided guidance encouraging a cloud first approach among other agencies, worked with Microsoft to develop a secure cloud platform that would support both internal operations and be acceptable to other departments as a secure collaboration platform.

The technology behind Office 365 offered the DTA a platform that could meet these requirements.

An initial pilot for 20 DTA staff has been successfully completed, and that is now being extended to a group of up to 40 users before a broader rollout across the entire agency planned for later this year.

The solution, developed in partnership with the DTA, PMC and DQA has potential for use not just by the agency itself, for us but for similar sized agencies across government, in terms of offering a flexible solution that is secure.

Office 365 deployment

The DTA deployment of Office 365 will deliver an important proof point for Federal Government agencies that Microsoft’s Protected certified cloud platforms can be deployed securely while reducing operational overheads.

Office 365 will provide DTA personnel with access to Exchange Online, including SharePoint, Skype for Business and an array of Azure services including Azure Key Vault and Azure Active Directory. At present, there are more than 200 DTA staff expected to use the system.

Access to the platform will also be provided to staff from other agencies working with the DTA on transformational initiatives, for example, the Digital Identity program that is currently under development.

The Office 365 solution being piloted at the Protected level was developed for the DTA in partnership with Microsoft partner, Delivery Quality Assurance (DQA).

According to Jean-Pierre Simonis, DQA’s CTO and Director of Federal Services, the solution being deployed at the DTA provides a template for other agencies that need to collaborate, communicate, and work on Protected documents and data from within a secure cloud environment.

Office 365 will allow; “Every single person in the organisation operating through the same corporate network, whether working on Unclassified or Protected data, without sacrificing any functionality,” said Simonis.

George Stavrakakis director public sector, Microsoft Australia, said that there is mounting Government interest in the opportunity to use Office 365 at the Protected level as a platform for secure and resilient computing, as well as an accelerant for service and enterprise transformation.

“The solution that Delivery Quality Assurance has developed for the DTA demonstrates to other Agencies how to establish a cloud based, Protected computing ecosystem that can support inter and intra department communication and collaboration and drive enterprise efficiency.”

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