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NSW Department of Finance and Services Private Cloud CMS SaaS

Case Study

The Department of Finance and Services provides the NSW Government with sector-wide leadership and advice on ICT procurement, e-government and other ICT initiatives. The agency produced an ICT strategic plan defining key objectives including: consolidate infrastructure, streamline the delivery of services and improve the purchasing of ICT while reducing cost to Government.

Driven by meeting the objectives in the ICT strategic plan the NSW DFS launched a project to consolidate the delivery of web solutions. A cluster of servers powered by an open source software stack running the Plone content management system, was deployed with an architecture designed to support a growing demand for agency websites needing a CMS. After several iterations of changes to the stack, architecture and data centre location, the result was the establishment of a government private cloud, supporting NSW agencies that have shared needs (CMS software, security, support and compliance).

The Plone CMS SaaS cloud solution it ticks all the compliance requirements as demanded by government such as privacy, data security, data sovereignty, guaranteeing service levels, non-vendor lock-in and data portability.

The key cloud benefits and features of the DFS Private Cloud CMS SaaS are:

Resource pooling – the DFS cloud’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and unassigned such as load balancing according to site traffic. The agency generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources such as the servers, network bandwidth, backup and storage but are aware of the location of the data centre and the services provided.

Elasticity – capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned to quickly scale up and be rapidly released to quickly scale down. To the agency, the capabilities available for provisioning extra storage, bandwidth etc, are unlimited and can be upgraded at any time. This eliminates wasteful procurement of over capacity with server resources.

Measured service – the DFS Private Cloud CMS SaaS is constantly monitored for resource usage and optimised appropriate to the type of service (for example, storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). As a result of the monitoring it is controlled and reported; providing transparency for agencies.

Guaranteed service level agreements – the DFS Private Cloud CMS SaaS is monitored 24*7 with a helpdesk to respond to both service interruptions, software bugs and 1st tier support to CMS editors during business hours locked in by a support contract.

Streamlining procurement – services can be purchased via NSW Procurement’s 2020 ICT Services Panel thus eliminating the need to go through the costly and time consuming tendering process. Similar service provision contracts are already in place with the Cloud contractor PretaWeb and NSW Procurement relieving the agency of this process. The CMS allows for “through-the-web” theming capabilities enabling agencies with CSS and HTML skills to be self sufficient in theming and implementing approved plug-in for their websites.

Increasing public sector productivity and efficiency – Agencies ultilising the DFS Private Cloud CMS SaaS don’t deal directly with technical details. The contracted cloud provider PretaWeb manages the facilities, selects and maintains the hardware and delivery software, handles communication with the hosting provider and owns the service delivery elements. This frees up the agency to focus on delivering frontline government services.

Data portability, No vendor lock-in – The web application stack and CMS are all open source and actively developed by diverse global communities. It can be installed either in a stand-alone or cloud environment. Any website hosted on the DFS CMSCloud can be ported out and self hosted at any time with no lock-in issues.

Costing comparisons at the agency level reveal real savings reflected in improved budget outcomes, together with reduced management time the agencies are able to redirect resources to frontline services. The Aboriginal Housing Office alone saved $63,000 relative to the next lowest quote received from a private sector organisation for an upgrade to their website. More agencies are able to join the DFS Private Cloud CMS SaaS at significantly reduced cost, effort and risk, when compared to running their own systems. The upcoming self-service demonstration will allow free prototypes to be enabled thus facilitating business case approval. Also planned are new innovative web services such as SaaS mobile applications.

A major outcome of the DFS Private Cloud CMS SaaS is the ability for smaller agencies with limited resources, to use leading edge CMS web technology at reasonable costs. Agencies can now effectively manage the increasing amount of information requiring rapid dissemination to citizens as the Plone CMS enables non-technical people to easily create and manage content. One example is the Centre for Genetics Education (Ministry of Health) whose previous website did not allow the staff to update content themselves and was a more costly proprietary solution. In addition to easy updates of content, agencies have access to hundreds of open source plug-ins such as RSS, events calendaring, Google mapping, social bookmarking, video/audio sharing, blogs, online polls and more, all free of licence fees.

Security is a high priority in government, which is a prime motivator for selecting Open Source and in particular Plone. Plone is built with security in mind at every level of its architecture and has the lowest occurrence of critical security incidences of any major open source CMS. The DFS Private Cloud CMS SaaS comes with built in security monitoring, 24x7 security response service and regular security audits. Plone drives the primary public sites of both the CIA and the FBI in America as well as the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission in Australia. AusCert, Australia's premier security authority has recently decided to convert their website to use Plone for its superior security record.

An additional benefit of this project is the enforcement of compliance with the Government’s website directive which includes meeting W3C accessibility standards and consistent branding.

The DFS Private Cloud CMS SaaS is used by the following NSW agencies:

  • The Centre for Genetics Education, Ministry of Health
  • Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Ministry of Health
  • SmokeCheck, Population Health, Ministry of Health
  • Multicultural Health Communications Service, Ministry of Health
  • Aboriginal Housing Office
  • Sydney Buses, State Transit Authority
  • Newcastle Buses, State Transit Authority
  • Independent Transport Safety Regulator
  • Parramatta Park Trust
  • Parramatta Stadium

Contact us for more information or a trial PretaGov CMS SaaS cloud for your juristiction.