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First major government data centre tender hits the streets

by Staff Writers •
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The Victorian Government is the first to issue a formal tender to meet its whole-of-government data centre requirements.

Both the Federal (interim panel) and NSW (EOI) Governments have gone to the market for data centre services, but neither has yet issued a full tender.

The Victorian tender calls for one vendor to provide the Government’s data centre requirements for at least the next five years. With two options to extend, each of five years, the government market in the state could be tied up with one vendor until 2027.

The Government’s preference is for a Tier 3, purpose-built, single building or complex in a single location, and the tender mandates that it must be located in Victoria. It must be at least 10 kilometres away from its existing data centres.

According to the tender documents, the Victoria Government’s current computer room floor space requirement is expected to increase five-fold from the current 300m2 (2009-10) to 1,500m2 in 2012-13. The tender requires respondents to propose scalable options to take future growth into account.

This tender closes on 7 January 2010, with a contract expected to be finalised by May 2010.

Unlike Victoria, the NSW Government is going for two purpose-built data centres to be developed and run by the private sector.

As recently reported in the medium, the NSW government released an Expression of Interest (EOI) late last month to meet its whole-of-government, calling for two geographically separate facilities.

Respondents to the EOI are free to propose locations for both sites. A number of potential NSW locations are suggested in the EOI document, but a NSW location has not been mandated.

The closing date for respondents to the NSW EOI is 1 December, with the RFT to be released during the first quarter of 2010. Facilities must be fully operational for the first anchor tenants (Departments of Health and Education) in 2011. With extensions, the NSW data centre contract is expected to run for up to 20 years.

The Federal government is still awaiting a detailed whole-of-government data centre strategy currently under development within the Australian Government Information Management Office. This strategy is due to be presented to the government by the end of the year.

To meet the urgent data centre requirements of federal agencies, a panel of five data centre suppliers was announced on 28 September. Following a formal expression of interest process, five companies were selected, most of which run facilities located outside the ACT: Canberra Data Centres (ACT), Fujitsu (NSW), Global Switch (NSW), Polaris (Qld) and Harbour MSP (NSW/Vic).

This panel will expire in March 2011, and only a small number of agencies are likely to access the services on offer.

The shortage of capacity forced Centrelink to secure data centre services even before the interim panel was announced. Centrelink signed a two-year, $5m contract with Canberra Data Centres in August.

All three jurisdictions are seeking to meet future capacity requirements, and at the same time, achieve cost efficiencies by consolidating whole-of-government data centre requirements in one or a small number of locations. The federal government currently operates 45 data centres (excluding Defence facilities); about 130 large and small data centres are in use by NSW government departments and agencies, and in Victoria, more than 22 data centres are managed by government organizations.

Environmental considerations are also at the fore of all the arrangements. The NSW government has appointed a sustainability advisor, emf griffiths / CS Technology, to assist in development and evaluation of the EOI, and the Victorian tender alerts respondents to the Victorian Government’s green lease requirements, as well as indicating the desirability of "energy efficient cooling and power solutions that ensure continuous improvement to assist in the reduction of the proposed data centre’s carbon footprint."

Other states have also addressed the data centre issue. With a review of its data centre requirements completed (endorsed in March 2007), the Queensland Government entered into a long-term lease agreement with Polaris for over 2000 square metres of shared data centre space at the Tier III facility constructed in Springfield in South East Queensland. The data centre was completed in February 2009, and government tenants started moving into the centre in the middle of 2009. This centre is one of the five companies on a panel to provide interim data centre services to Federal government agencies until March 2011.

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