Cloud technology, enterprise thinking drive Canadian government’s new IT plan

The Canadian government is borrowing a page from the private sector with the new Information Technology Strategic Plan it revealed on June 29.

In what Government of Canada CIO John Messina acknowledges is a long-overdue upgrade, the living document provides a blueprint for the public sector’s various tech departments to follow between now and 2020, as they upgrade the country’s IT infrastructure to reflect the security, reliability, and innovation that Messina says Canadians have come to expect from the private sector.

“In responding to government priorities and current challenges, the plan charts the path forward for IT from a whole-of-government, or ‘enterprise,’ perspective, positioning the government to… deliver better programs and services and ultimately value to Canadians,” Messina writes in his introduction to the plan, noting that not every action discussed is expected to be completed by 2020, nor is it assumed that all departments and agencies will implement them within the same time frame.

Caveats aside, the plan is to replace the government’s legacy IT infrastructure, which its 100-plus organizations have constructed piecemeal while operating separately from each other, with cloud-based enterprise solutions that can deliver services across every division to Canadians both at home and abroad.

“This plan will deliver to Canadians the kind of government they expect – one that is open and transparent yet safeguards their personal information; one that delivers effective and responsive programs and services while being fiscally prudent; and one that makes decisions based on sound evidence while seeking meaningful engagement and collaboration with Canadians and other stakeholders,” the plan’s authors write, noting that they also will be tracking, evaluating and reporting their progress, with the plan reviewed annually to make sure it remains up to date.

The Canadian government currently employs some 17,000 IT professionals at more than 1500 government locations both across Canada and around the world, while spending $5 billion on IT every year.

In developing a road map for its digital future, the plan’s authors have outlined 47 strategic actions, 25 of which are already underway, and divided them into four strategic goals.

Strategic Goal 1: Service

As defined by the government: To embrace cloud-based software, cross-platform storage, and an enterprise-wide approach to implementing both, which will ultimately result in better internal services for government employees and improved external services for Canadians.

Actions underway:

  • Develop IT service portfolios and catalogues;
  • Report on key areas of IT system health performance;
  • Complete data centre consolidation and modernization;
  • Complete network consolidation;
  • Complete government email consolidation;
  • Adopt cloud computing services;
  • Establish a cloud service broker;
  • Offer public cloud services;
  • Build a platform for enterprise interoperability.

Future actions:

  • Implement enterprise IT service management tools;
  • Offer private cloud services;
  • Introduce a government mobile applications store;
  • Introduce a government API store;
  • Implement a platform for external collaboration;
  • Advance analytics capabilities.

Strategic Goal 2: Security

As defined by the government: Increase awareness and understanding of cyber threats, and focus on layered defences to reduce exposure to them, in order to ensure the secure processing and sharing of data across government services, backed by secure enterprise infrastructure.

Actions underway:

  • Protect web transactions to and from external-facing websites;
  • Implement a trusted digital identity for people accessing internal government networks and systems.

Future actions:

  • Secure the government’s network perimeter;
  • Implement endpoint security profiles;
  • Implement an enterprise approach to vulnerability and patch management;
  • Manage and control administrative privileges;
  • Implement an improved cyber authentication service;
  • Implement a secure communication services for classified information;
  • Implement enterprise data loss prevention;
  • Enable comprehensive understanding of endpoint devices;
  • Enhance awareness of enterprise cyber security threat and risk environment.

Strategic Goal 3: Value

As defined by the government: Focus on evolving IT management practices, processes, and tools with eyes towards both innovation and sustainability, to ensure that any strategies implemented are both sustainable and demonstrate value by helping departments reach their goals. Encourage shared resources, tools, processes, and systems. Develop enterprise-wide solutions to address common business needs.

Actions underway:

  • Establish enterprise IT governance;
  • Develop methods to prioritize investments in legacy and transformation initiatives;
  • Evolve IT management practices, processes and tools;
  • Develop enterprise architectures for business and information;
  • Adopt agile approaches to implementing IT solutions.

Future actions:

  • Document roles and responsibilities for IT and IT security;
  • Lead innovation;
  • Adopt modern and flexible business models;
  • Ensure IT infrastructure sustainability;
  • Rationalize investments.

Strategic Goal 4: Agility

As defined by the government: Provide a technologically advanced workplace that can attract and retain skilled and diverse IT talent; promote digital literacy and collaboration; build a high-performing IT workforce that gives public service employees the tools they need to perform their jobs.

Actions underway:

  • Invest in executive talent management;
  • Enhance workforce planning;
  • Enable career development;
  • Modernize workplace technology devices;
  • Support a mobile workforce;
  • Provide Wi-Fi access;
  • Provide desktop videoconferencing to employees;
  • Implement managed print services;
  • Advance digital collaboration.

Future actions:

  • Promote gender parity;
  • Promote digital literacy and collaboration.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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