Technology giant Microsoft is working to accelerate the digital transformation of Western Australia’s Health Support Services organization through the deployment of its Office 365 software to 45,000 staff in 500 sites across the state.

The HSS serves as the WA health system’s shared services arm providing cyber security, storage and application support, central computing power and connectivity for all of WA Health.

The intent is to make Office 365, currently being piloted, available to all WA Health employees by the middle of next year – a transformation program that will see most workloads move from on premises data centres into the cloud.

"Our model for the future of compute and storage is going to be hybrid-cloud, with the majority probably in private cloud, and increasing over the coming years in managed public cloud services," sai Holger Kaufmann, chief information officer at HSS for WA Health, in a Microsoft blog post regarding the announcement.

As part of the migration, the HSS has established a Security and Risk Management team to improve cybersecurity practices, which includes the creation of Digital Information Security program to bolster the cybersecurity baseline.

The program uses a host of Microsoft’s security cloud services including multi-factor authentication, advanced threat analytics software and Azure Active Directory, the company’s cloud-based identity and access management service.

"By expanding the DIS project we are looking to tackle issues including Australian data sovereignty over cloud services," said Martin Dart, ICT director security and risk management at HSS, said in a statement. "We’re currently rewriting our cloud security policy to reflect that as a key concept, that not all clouds are created equal – Australian clouds versus overseas clouds."

Dart explained the SRM team would be drawing from the NIST Cyber Security Framework, alongside a number of strategic government and industry partnerships to help "lift maturity" on a system-wide basis.

"We are partnering with Microsoft to help us with technical resources, and fully leverage our investments in the Microsoft Office 365 suite," Dart continued.

The news follows an April announcement from networking services specialist NEC Australia that it will upgrade more than 500 health sites by 2020 for the WA Department of Health, as part of their HealthNext ICT transformation program.

The $23 million contract comes from the $409 million HealthNext infrastructure replacement project, led by HHS.

Healthcare organisations are fast adopting hybrid cloud as a result of increasing security and compliance concerns, according to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index study published earlier this month.

The report identified that hybrid cloud adoption in healthcare is expected to jump from 19 per cent to 37 per cent worldwide in two years, as providers address critical technology needs.

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