A Platform for a Country: Australia’s govCMS

November 12, 2014
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When I first met Dries Buytaert I asked him why he started Acquia. To paraphrase him (because I wasn’t taking perfect notes): I realized after getting some calls seeking advice that if Drupal was going to be adopted by the world’s greatest brands and institutions, it would need a company like Acquia to support them.

I’m sure Dries has seen that vision come true many times over the course of Acquia’s seven year history, but I wish he had been in Sydney with me yesterday when the Chief Technology Officer of the Australian Government, John Sheridan, announced to the country’s top tech press that the “home page” of country -- australia.gov.au -- had just gone live on govCMS, a distribution of Drupal designed to support the needs of Australia’s official ministries and agencies on a common platform, running on the Acquia Platform.

australian gov

And yesterday’s launch is just the beginning, for govCMS is a solution available for any government agency, giving them a state of the art content management framework for meeting the needs of Australia’s citizens on a cloud platform designed with the future in mind.

The Big Story

The rise of open source and the cloud is one of the biggest stories in technology and society today. The transformation of the relationship between citizens and the institutions that govern them has been stunning, belying a few myths I’ll admit I used to believe.

The first myth is that the public sector lags the private sector in the embrace of new tech and the development of innovative applications. Even under the scrutiny of the public procurement process and the constant pressure to do more with less taxpayer funds, governments are being driven by the expectation of those taxpayers to be able to conduct their business and perform their official transactions -- from paying their property taxes to renewing their fishing licenses online -- with the same degree of customer service and usability they’ve come to know from their commercial relationships. Name an issue of concern to a commercial enterprise -- security, payment processing, accessibility, responsive design, community -- and the public sector lives it everyday. From embracing open source and cloud computing to harnessing the Internet of Things, the public sector is leading the way.

The second myth “public computing” is proving wrong is that open source is inferior to commercial solutions.

Public computing initiatives such as govCMS are very visible demonstrations of how a massive organization can nimbly and securely meet the needs of its audience and collaborate to focus on the delivery of services. govCMS is a leading example of how NOT to perpetuate the agony of one-off, disconnected solutions. We’ve seen our commercial customers realize huge savings and improved delivery times through the use of the Acquia Platform as a way large enterprises can manage hundreds, even thousands of websites from a common platform while leaving control of the content experience in the hands of the stakeholders on the front lines.

The stakes are huge. From the very public failure of Healthcare.gov in the U.S. 2013 to the crucial role of digital technologies in election campaigns (Drupal was first put on the map in the 2004 US presidential election), some of the most difficult and forward-looking challenges in technology are happening in the public sector from the local and state level to national governments.

This is why John Sheridan’s work and Australia’s faith in Acquia to provide an agile, resilient platform for the future is of such incredible importance to us. This initiative is an incredible affirmation of Dries’ founding dream for Acquia, a dream that has seen us become one of the fastest growing technology companies in history. We at Acquia look forward to supporting and watching govCMS expand across this great country as the basis of its digital future.

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