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NZ Parliament revives Office 365 rollout after local cloud region promise

NZ Parliament revives Office 365 rollout after local cloud region promise

Concerns over Australia's controversial Telecommunications (Assistance and Access) Act addressed

Credit: NZ Parliament

Parliamentary Services is once again planning to roll out Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 suite after the software giant announced it would invest in a New Zealand datacentre region.

Parliament's new "Strategic Intentions 2020 - 2024" document said the agency intends to implement Office 365 while also preserving data sovereignty, with a full roll-out planned to align with Microsoft's proposed datacentres in New Zealand.

The plan says it was critical that Parliament, its members and staff from supporting agencies have "reliable, fit for-purpose technology delivered in a customer-centric way".

Parliamentary Services put the brakes on a planned rollout in March last year to accommodate a reassessment of the final stage migration to cloud-based versions of Microsoft 365, a report to Parliament revealed.

The agency told Reseller News the concerns related to the passage of the Telecommunications (Assistance and Access) Act in Australia -- the so-called "backdoor" law.

Among other provisions, the law required tech companies to provide law enforcement and security agencies with access to encrypted communications.

Parliamentary Services' Office 365 project had three objectives, the last of which was to migrate users from on premises Microsoft Office to Microsoft Exchange Online and Office 365 hosted from cloud availability zones in Australia.

However, stakeholders raised concerns around Australia's new law and the legal protection of New Zealand parliamentary privilege. 

In May, however, Microsoft announced it would build two datacentres in Auckland to host a new local Azure cloud region. That appears to have been enough to get the planned rollout back on track

Parliamentary Services' new strategic intentions also aim to improve mixed user ratings around the technology it provided.

"Levels of customer satisfaction with IT offerings have been mixed in the past, and to address this, the service will embark on an ambitious and comprehensive programme of work," the document said.

 The outcomes sought include improved detection and remediation of IT systems and infrastructure issues; improved IT management and response of customer-affecting incidents; and an improved or maintained cybersecurity posture.

Systems and infrastructure should remain in support and customer experience from IT customer service should also be improved.

The projects that form part of the programme include the relocation of physical infrastructure from Bowen House to geographically separated datacentres, the adoption of ServiceNow for IT service management, an upgrade of the agency's Citrix platform, and the introduction of new monitoring tools to improve detection and remediation of issues.


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