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Big names still absent from new Cloud Services Panel

by Pallavi Singhal •
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Two tranches of suppliers, totalling 58 companies, have been named as panelists under the Government’s new Cloud Services panel, but some of the big names in ICT currently remain off the list.

The new panel, which covers Software-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and specialist cloud services is available to all federal and state government agencies.

Although use of the arrangement is optional, public sector demand for cloud services is set to grow, with cloud-first policies in place across Federal, NSW, Queensland, Victorian and South Australian Governments. Western Australia is also set to release a cloud-first policy.

The Federal Government’s 2014 Cloud Computing Policy made it mandatory for agencies to look at cloud solutions in the first instance when refreshing or procuring ICT, and only consider other options if cloud was found not to be “fit for purpose”, failed to meet security requirements or did not offer “best value for money”.

Despite the panel’s likely relevance for public sector ICT procurement in coming years, only eight of Intermedium’s top 100 ICT providers have been approved under the arrangement. Some of the largest multinational providers, including Unisys, Fujitsu, CSC, Optus and Telstra remain off the list, suggesting difficulties in negotiating some elements of the panel contract.  

A spokeswoman for Finance said: “Negotiations with a range of providers are continuing.

“More providers will be added to the Cloud Services Panel as these negotiations are completed.”

Agencies will soon be able to view pre-approved panelists, services and request quotes through the Federal Government’s ICT Procurement Portal, which will become available in early March 2015. The panel will form part of a service catalogue available through the Portal that appears similar to the ‘online shopping’ style of procurement facilitated by the NSW ICT Services Scheme and Victorian eServices Register.

The Cloud Services panel will effectively replace the Data Centre-as-a-Service (DCaaS) Multi Use List, which provides a similar range of services and will no longer be available from October 2015.

DCaaS was established in October 2012 to facilitate short-term contracts with a maximum value of $80,000. It was deemed to be a success by Australian Government Chief Technology Officer John Sheridan after it facilitated 22 contracts worth over $1 million in its first year of operation.

The new panel was announced in 2014 following recommendations in the National Commission of Audit for the establishment of a whole-of-government cloud computing panel “to confirm the viability, capability and costs of large-scale cloud computing providers”.

Assistant Secretary at the Department of Finance, Mundi Tomlinson wrote in a recent blog post: “The Cloud Services Panel aims to provide agencies scalable and flexible cloud services via industry offerings.”

The new panel has an initial term of two years, with options to extend for another four years.

Finance has previously revealed that it expects the categories to expand over time “every 12 to 18 months, if there is a need to do so.”

 

Table 1: Categories of as-a-Service Provision (Source:  Department of Finance RFT)

1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

4. Specialist Cloud Services (SCS)

a. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

b. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

c. IT Service Management

 d. Productivity Solutions

a. Application Deployment

b. Web Hosting

a. Compute

b. Storage

a. Cloud Specialists

 

Finance’s August 2014 Cloud Procurement Discussion Paper revealed that the decision to make the Panel non-mandatory was partly due to the lack of maturity of the market to “treat cloud services as a commodity” and that the main objective is to “encourage and support” agencies to move to the cloud rather than cost savings.

 

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