Data centre suppliers who missed out on being included on the whole-of-government Data Centre Facilities Panel back in March 2011, or those who have expanded their offerings in the data centre market since, will get a second chance to bid for a place in the latter half of this year.
Existing panel suppliers will automatically keep their spots and will not be required to reapply.
Suppliers may also find themselves applying for a significantly altered arrangement.
The Department of Finance and Deregulation’s Mundi Tomlinson announced yesterday via the AGIMO Blog that her Technology and Procurement Division would be conducting a review of the Facilities Panel over the coming months, acknowledging the that the data centre market had changed significantly since the last scoping study in 2009.
“Density has increased, power needs have changed and the impact of cloud computing and virtualisation on traditional data centre environments has been significant. So, it’s clear that Finance needs to look for ways to adapt to changes in technology, industry and agency business needs,” she said.
The Data Centre Facilities Panel has also very recently shrunk, with NEC and greenfields member Dell both opting out of the arrangement earlier this year, bringing the total number of panellists down to 12. NEC advised Intermedium that it will no longer lease space within Queensland’s Polaris data centre, which was its only facility approved under the panel terms. Dell has not responded to Intermedium’sinquiries about its move.
Finance will be inviting feedback from industry and agencies on the current shape and terms of the Data Centre Facilities Panel until 15 April. Of particular concern to the Department is whether the current procurement model is getting in the way of agencies adopting more contemporary cloud models of computing.
It is also wondering whether the minimum procurement volumes currently required for a panel purchase – 500m2 of data centre space and/or 500kw of power supply for a 10 year period – are still appropriate as the use of virtualisation increases within the Government and its floor space requirements drop accordingly. The elasticity offered by cloud alternatives is also likely to place these fixed criteria into question.
The Department might even look towards the smaller and more flexible cousin to the Data Centre Facilities Panel, the whole-of-government Data Centre-as-a-Service Multi-Use List (DCaaS MUL), which appears to be experiencing some success especially when it comes to procurement efficiency.
The MUL is aimed at the smaller end of agency procurement, offering an open catalogue of cloud and cloud-like services capped at $80,000 and 1 year terms, thus falling below the threshold for a full approach to market.
In a recent address, Australian Government Chief Technology Officer John Sheridan said that he has been very impressed by the agility of procurements under the arrangement.
“I’ve seen us take a week to get a quote from vendors, we get the best quote, we sign up the vendor, and in my organisation specifically, the team then said to the vendor, OK, well we’ve signed this, we’ve signed up the order, when will the services be ready?” he said. “And I knew that they were thinking a week or a month, or something like that...[but]they were ready the next morning.”
According to Intermedium data, the Data Centre Facilities Panel has seen just over $300 million worth of leases signed since its establishment, with the bulk of this made up of a single $224 million deal between the Department of Human Services and Canberra Data Centres.
Sheridan says that after two years the Government has avoided $24 million in data centre costs thanks to the panel, a small step towards the $1 billion targeted by the Government’s Data Centre Strategy by 2025.
“It doesn’t sound much,” he conceded. “But we’ve got ten to 15 years to reach that target.”
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