critical national industry

Australia has seen a growing demand for water, transportation and energy services over the last few years. This led to owners of Critical National Industry providers implementing digital transformation initiatives, knowing that the level of reliability and efficiency they will need in the coming decades depends on them automating operational processes.

This can be an involved and lengthy process at the best of times, especially when one considers that many state and local governments are still working on mainframes that are decades old. But with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing organisations of all shapes and sizes to build new work policies in order to accommodate social distancing and lockdown regulations, the need to accelerate application modernisation has been highlighted.

Until now, IT (Information Technology) and OT systems (Operational Technology) have been mostly separate. But as OT devices that monitor and control the physical systems people rely on are being connected to wider communication networks and the internet, the worlds of both IT and OT are converging. This is especially true for Critical National Industry providers.

Where operational changes like changing load generation had to be done on-site, now managers may have a remotely accessible dashboard that allows them to do this and more – in real-time. As any IT professional knows, however, there are increased cyber risks that come with this increased connectedness. And these risks must be managed proactively.

While every level of government and Critical National Industry providers has undergone impressive modernisation over the last two years, there is still a lot of work to be done before they reach optimum digital service delivery. Remote working and hybrid work strategies are here to stay, as is the technology to securely enable these workspaces of the future.

But Critical National Industry providers still have key decision making ahead of them before they reach optimal digital service delivery. With their need for reliable productivity technology, many Critical National Industry organisations are turning to next-generation virtual Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) environments as their answer.

But what is the Critical National Industry sector exactly, and how can they benefit from DaaS? Read on to find out.

What is the Critical National Industry (CNI) Sector?

There are 11 critical infrastructure sectors whose networks, systems and assets – whether physical or virtual – are considered so essential to Australia that their destruction or incapacitation would have a devastating effect on national public health and safety, economic security, national security, or a combination of these.

In Australia, critical infrastructure providers are not all governmental agencies. Some are government-owned corporations at the federal, state or local levels, but the large majority of them are operated by commercial organisations. These commercial operations can be public corporations, private companies or multinational organisations whose main headquarters aren’t even based in Australia.

Originally, there were only four sectors identified in the Security of Critical Infrastructure (SOCI) Act 2018, a bill that is aimed at managing the risks that sabotage, espionage and coercion within Australia’s critical infrastructure sectors pose to national security. These four were:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas
  • Ports

But the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2021 passed by parliament on 22 November 2021 has expanded the definition to include 11 sectors, which are:

  • Electricity/Energy
  • Water & Sewerage
  • Communications
  • Healthcare & Medical
  • Financial Services & Markets
  • Food & Grocery
  • Transport
  • Higher Education & Research
  • Data Storage or Processing
  • Space Technology
  • Defence Industry

Aimed at risk management and mitigating the impact of cyber attacks, these changes do more than just widen the scope of what is considered to be critical infrastructure, though. It also increases the federal government’s power to impose regulations on those sectors and assets that fall under the ‘new’ definition of Critical National Industry.

The enhanced framework of the New Bill outlines the necessity of improving cyber security and resilience within all Critical National Industry sectors, combined with better identification and sharing of threats. At the end of the day, this new bill is simply highlighting the fact that the mission-critical workloads and sensitive enterprise data of Critical National Industry providers can’t be left vulnerable.

But protecting them requires robust and often expensive computing resources, and it is yet another reason why virtual DaaS solutions have been gaining traction in the Critical National Industry sector.

Why Desktop as a Service for Critical National Industry?

The pandemic may have revolutionised the way we work, or simply ushered the new era of digital workspaces and virtual workforce strategies in a little sooner – depending on who you ask.

But as Critical National Industry organisations continue with the fortification and maturations of their desktop virtualisation strategies, the security and scalability of remote access is a major concern.

The Federal Government is now able to enforce certain minimum requirements to improve the baseline security of critical infrastructure networks. So organisations that never fell under the Critical National Industry umbrella are suddenly needing to look at how they can modernise their work strategies, operational technology and environments, comply with stringent cyber security measures and sustain these new systems for the long term while providing access to end users efficiently.

These organisations and Government Agencies need cloud infrastructure, cloud services and managed services that deliver remote access while maintaining stringent control systems.

Key benefits Critical National Industry Can gain from DaaS

Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions are cloud infrastructure-hosted and managed desktop services that can accommodate access to both traditional and virtual desktops. These online services provide an ability to support a wide variety of service and management models.

So here are five important reasons why DaaS solutions are proving to be a critical link in what the future of work will look like for Critical National Industry providers.

1) Remote access for a mobile workforce

There is no denying that remote and hybrid work models are here to stay, and the ‘any device, any time, anywhere’ variety of desktop computing is supported by desktop and application virtualisation. Staff need secure remote access, no matter where their physical location is.

2) Meets the demand and provides support for new devices and applications

Technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, with devices being outdated almost as soon as they reach market and applications being updated almost before anyone really gets the hang of the old version. With DaaS solutions and capabilities, organisations can standardise the process of onboarding new devices and delivering applications, allowing agencies the freedom to test both more easily.

3) Improves the resilience of desktop environments

Virtual desktop infrastructure and the tools to manage them are designed with security and resilience in mind and delivered from within a secure government-sanctioned data centre. With value-added tools such as disaster recovery options, they support the Critical National Industry providers’ requirements of high availability at all times.

4) Lower long-term computing costs

Critical National Industry agencies constantly face the budgetary pressures of trying to do more with less. The sophisticated management and software delivery tools offered by virtual DaaS solutions remove the need for Critical National Industry agencies to invest in, operate or maintain their own desktop IT infrastructure. They also reduce the time spent on updating and patching applications and operating systems, handling desktop support issues, implementing business continuity options and more.

5) Provided on an ‘as-a-service’ model

Virtual DaaS is a service, which means that there are no major upfront investments required and no on premise deployments. Because organisations only pay for what they actually use, they can easily scale up or down depending on their needs, without concern about features going to waste or not being enough to support future requirements.

Critical National

Why Critical National Industry providers use AUCloud for secure, high-performance DaaS

The challenges presented by balancing legacy applications and technologies with new computing needs and requirements are constantly growing. That’s without even considering the complication of ensuring the highest levels of security at every level of the IT stack – a factor that is especially important for Critical National Industry providers.

With centralised desktop distribution, Critical National Industry providers have access to the IT resources they need while avoiding the storage of sensitive data on endpoint devices that are notoriously difficult to secure. VDI can involve a substantial upfront investment in on-site data centre equipment, as well as the cost of keeping it maintained and updated.

This is why cloud-based DaaS solutions are often the preferred option. AUCloud can enable customers with a lightweight, virtual endpoint operating system that provides powerful, centralised management tools that enable access to high-performance, secure VDI and DaaS solutions.

These virtual cloud workspaces are:

  • Easy to manage information technologies that are highly scalable.
  • Built on the industry-leading VMware Horizon 7 virtualisation platform.
  • Designed to meet the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) ISM controls for data classification at OFFICIAL, OFFICIAL: SENSITIVE and PROTECTED levels. AUCloud’s OFFICIAL and PROTECTED environments are also IRAP assessed and align with the ACSC’s Cloud Assessment and Authorisation framework (CAAF).
  • Supported by security cleared Australian citizens.
  • Sovereign which means all data, including metadata, monitoring data and derived analytics data, is highly secure and remains in Australia.
  • Compliant with Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans to protect business data from outages, natural disasters or targeted attacks.
  • Compatible with laptops, desktop PCs, thin client devices, Macs, tablets and smartphones and supports a variety of device models (BYOD or organisation owned and managed).
  • Used exclusively by Australian Government and the Critical National Industry sector organisations.

With its built-in ability to adhere to the most stringent of data protection and security requirements, impressively small attack surface and the simplicity of deploying, scaling, managing and maintaining a broad range of virtual environments – it is no wonder that AUCloud is a leader when it comes to providing DaaS solutions and remote access for both government and Critical National Industry organisations.

To learn more about cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure and to discuss using Desktop-as-a-Service solutions in your business, speak to our AUCloud sales team by calling 1800 282 568. Alternatively, you can email us on

AUCloud: Keeping the data of Australians in Australia