The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) believes that a Multi-Use List (MUL) represents better option than a Whole-of-Government panel when it comes to the procurement of ICT ‘as-a-service’ – and it wants to know if industry and the public agree.
AGIMO’s First Assistant Secretary Agency Services, John Sheridan has published a proposed model for a Data Centre-as-a-Service (DCaaS) MUL, which will be tailored to servicing the needs of the 50 per cent of Federal agencies that spend less than $2 million per annum on ICT. These agencies are viewed as not needing or not being able to afford to maintain their own agency-specific ICT infrastructure.
The scope of the list will take in Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provisioning with a value of $80,000 or less, and with a term of up to 12 months.
$80,000 represents the threshold for an open approach to market under Commonwealth procurement rules, thus the arrangement will seek to improve on those procurements that usually only require the collection of three quotations prior to the selection of a supplier, rather than an open approach to market.
In his blog post Sheridan also acknowledged the growing maturity of the cloud computing market.
“Whilst the services available may be cloud computing services, using a cloud model is not essential,” says the proposal, which will be open for feedback until 30 April.
The document reflects a significant turn-around in AGIMO’s thinking since November last year, when Assistant Secretary of the Central Facilities Branch Kayelle Wiltshire told members of an industry briefing to “expect a panel and expect the per unit price to be set”.
But in this instance the panel model has been portrayed as too inflexible to keep up with the dynamic nature of as-a-service offerings on the market, including cloud computing.
“Our approach to sourcing these services needs to ensure that agencies can consume new services as they become available. We have determined that a standard panel approach will not meet this requirement,” said Sheridan on the AGIMO Blog.
The proposed MUL is far less rigid than the seven (including the Microsoft VSA) whole-of-government ICT panels currently under AGIMO’s management. This is customary for MULs, which are typically much easier to join than a panel.
In order to remain responsive to the changing market, the MUL will be continuously open to applications for membership, and these will be assessed on a quarterly basis. The scope of the service catalogue is also to be flexible under the proposal, with agencies given the opportunity to suggest services that they would like to see added in the future.
Also unlike the panels, the proposed DCaaS MUL will not be mandatory for use by any agencies.
Interested suppliers are likely to have to qualify for the list by demonstrating their capacity to provide quality services in the nominated categories, as well as providing referees and examples of past work.
As is typical under a MUL model, per-unit pricing will not be part of the criteria for inclusion. However, once admitted suppliers will be required to supply clear pricing information as part of their contribution to the service catalogue, for agencies to compare against competitors.
“The MUL will rely on market forces to set prices for the different services and a level of transparency to keep prices within market expectations,” says the proposal.
AGIMO’s focus on DCaaS procurement was first revealed in December 2010, at a briefing for the Australian Government’s Data Centre Strategy. It acknowledges that not all agencies have the budget to lease their own hosting space through the whole-of-government Data Centre Facilities Panel.
Intermedium’s research showed that in 2010-11 just six agencies accounted for 73 per cent of the total contract value of the market, whilst 75 agencies accounted for 2 per cent. This stratification of the market is discussed extensively in Intermedium’s latest Annual Market Overview Report.
The stratification means that a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach will not meet the needs of agencies of such a variety of sizes and requirements. It is this variability which is likely to have moved AGIMO away from its original panel intentions.
AGIMO expects that a request for Applications for Inclusion will be released via AusTender before the end of June 2012, closing 30 August 2012. The first round of successful applicants are expected to be announced in October 2012.