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Contract data predicts early adopters of AGIMO’s Data Centre Strategy

by Paris Cowan •
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2011 is due to be the year of the data centre in government ICT circles, or so Acting Australian Government CIO John Sheridan suggested at the Gartner Infrastructure Operations and Data Centre summit on 16 March, a claim supported by Intermedium’s analysis of expiring data centre contracts.

Sheridan revealed that negotiations with preferred suppliers to its Data Centre Migration Services Panel are due to be completed by the end of March.  This is a deadline shared by the Existing Data Centre Facilities Panel, however no information has been forthcoming about when suppliers for that panel will be announced.

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will approach the market for the ‘Data Centre as a Service’ Panel in the third quarter of 2011.

While the formal data centre strategy was being developed, twelve agencies were granted access to the interim data centre panel for urgent data centre moves.  The Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink and Defence have moved or are moving data centres.  The other eight agencies needed contingency data centre arrangements.

For the remainder, the move to a full adoption of the requirements of the Data Centre Strategy will be triggered by any one of a series of key markers in their data centre procurement lifecycle.

An Industry Briefing on the Strategy, released in December 2010, lists these trigger points:

  • Lease expiry;
  • Major asset replacement;
  • Building moves;
  • End of life of the data centre; or
  • Significant increase in data centre capacity

A number of these events can be tracked using contract expiration dates.  Intermedium’s analysis of contract data compiled from Austender reveals that ‘lease expiry’ will occur for a number of agencies during 2011 and 2012.  While it is possible that some of these contracts have permissible extensions, allowing for a further duration of the lease with the existing provider, the spirit of the Strategy suggests that a move away from suppliers on the interim panel, to suppliers on the final panel should occur when the existing leases are up.  This also makes the announcement of the Data Centre Migration Services Panel all the more critical, as it will soon be required to assist with any resultant moves. 

Centrelink, which was running low on data centre capacity in the lead up to the announcement of the Data Centre Strategy, entered into a contract with Canberra Data Centres effective from 1 September 2009. This contract will expire on 31 August 2011.

Centrelink also signed with Verizon for a lease at the Bruce Data Centre – a contract which is due to expire on 30 June 2011. The agency has already begun the transfer of their data centre requirements.

Several agencies chose to procure short term data centre solutions through the Department of Finance’s interim panel.

The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) went with Canberra Data Centres in an agreement that will see it through until March 2013.

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) also entered into a contract with Canberra Data Centres, due to expire at June 2014.

A near identical arrangement was entered into by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPC) which will conclude on 30 March 2012.

In an interim arrangement approved by Minister for Finance and Deregulation Penny Wong, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) entered into a short term contract for data centre managed services with IBM in February, which will also run out in February 2012.  This transition arrangement was allowed under the Coordinated Procurement Framework.

A much longer term contract for data centre and network services between Macquarie Telecom and the Federal Court will conclude its five year term on 20 August 2011.

And another long-term lease will come to an end on 30 June 2012, this time between the Bureau of Meteorology and Canberra Data Centres, after a three-and-a-half year duration.

It is more than likely these agencies will be amongst the earliest adopters of the Data Centre Strategy.

The Department of Defence has also already begun a data centre move, using a contract set up through the interim data centre panel.

They have entered into a long term agreement with Global Switch, and will be transferring their data centre needs within the next six months, says AGIMO.

Documents from the Data Centre Industry Briefing explain that although adhering to the strategy will be compulsory for all FMA Act agencies, “it is recognised that with the number of agencies involved, there may be cases where the Strategy can not satisfy all the requirements”.

“In such circumstances, the Expenditure Review Committee, a subcommittee of the Cabinet, will have the ability to approve exemptions based on the business case put forward by the agency,” the document says.

The Australian Data Centre Strategy was launched in March 2010 in response to the recommendations of the 2008 Gershon Review into Government ICT.  The objective of the Strategy is to save $1 billion in data centre expenses between 2010 and 2015 by replacing an ad-hoc approach to data centre procurement with a consolidated plan.


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