An overwhelming need to work with industry to deliver cloud based solutions was articulated by 3 CIOs from the NSW Department of Finance and Services (DFS) in relation to the scheduled migration to GovDC.
Addressing an AIIA forum held on 11th April, DFS CIO Malcolm Freame stated that the Department is “looking for industry to come help us innovate in a way that will make progression quicker or easier than if we try to do that ourselves.”
Anticipating the move to GovDC, Office of State Revenue (OSR) CIO Angela Donohoe announced that she was “very enthusiastic” about the opportunity to swap in-house technology for as-a-service alternatives “that are of real value to us”: “we are very skinny on bandwidth and that’s one of the issues as we go to cloud and go to the consumption of services where we can really architect cost-effective end-to-end service delivery.”
Donohoe referenced “years and years of costs reductions and cost pressures” to characterise NSW agencies’ circumstances, and held up the access to third party services being made available by the GovDC reform as a way to “change the paradigm”.
Steve Woodhouse, CIO for Land and Property Information (LPI) expressed that he was “very interested to see what [suppliers] are proposing as services” and “how it’s going to fit into my hybrid cloud model”.
Woodhouse’s address featured NSW Globe, a solution for viewing land registry data from a spatial perspective, which has been built by layering a third party commercial solution, Google Maps, with the LPI’s own content. Woodhouse spoke of his “as-a-service vision” for LPI: “We want to be a service broker; front-end out, back-end consumption of services.”
Discussing role of the Office of the CIO at DFS, Freame commented, “The management of third party suppliers is increasingly significant. As we move to more things being done as-a-service, our role is changing slightly from being the developer and the provider to being the broker or servicer of information.”
Freame repeatedly called out the role third party suppliers would play when discussing the key ICT objectives and priorities for DFS, saying they intended to work with industry to address a key objective of enabling and delivering better public services. When naming specific projects, Freame marked the Data Centre migration as ‘front and centre of what we’re doing.”
In tandem, Freame discussed the priorities of DFS’ arm ICT Strategic Policy (ISP), headed by William Murphy, saying that one area the division was “working extensively with is in procurement reform”. He confirmed that ISP were implementing “a number of initiatives around making it easier for industry to deal with Government”, citing ongoing changes to ProcureIT “as more and more different scenarios come up of how industry and government can work together.”
The challenges of being “an in-house development shop and an in-house IT shop”
Angela Donohoe spoke of the increasing challenges for the Office of State Revenue (OSR) of being “an in-house development shop and an in-house IT shop”. With over a hundred custom built key business applications built with Open Source technology, they are “very reliant on the skills of our staff to resolve the issues that arise” and that this pain had been experienced recently in several significant technology upgrades.
She confirmed that the OSR “see a place for the brand products that have better support and a larger user base”, and that as part of building a new ICT Strategy Plan for 2021, they are investigating “how we can tap into other solutions beyond what we can build ourselves.”
According to Steven Woodhouse, Land and Property Information (LPI) also have more than a hundred applications custom built in-house, and that “a number of these are no longer meeting our business requirements”. Woodhouse discussed the significant work LPI are currently doing to make applications “more as components” and that they were already using web services “to make them talk to each other”. Woodhouse affirmed that “building will be our last option now, and not our first as it previously was”.
Moving to cloud – but not “at any price”
In closing the forum, Freame cautioned suppliers and integrators intending to engage in the GovDC marketplace that while they would be given priority, it would not be “at any price”. The ‘Share before Buy before Build’ policy was highlighted by all three speakers, and Freame reiterated that agencies would look inside government for assets they could share before approaching the GovDC marketplace for new services.
Woodhouse also voiced caution around the required level of service provision for LPI, where, for example, 120 users work on GSI tools simultaneously, each needing 46 gigabytes at their disposal.
Despite these cautions, however, Freame positioned DFS as a leading protagonist in the GovDC Reform, urging suppliers that the agency was prepared to be a “leader or fast-follower” for new and innovative solutions brought into the marketplace.
GovDC deal making session
A deal making session followed the 11th April forum, where NSW agencies and industry leaders discussed proposals for delivering cloud based services as part of GovDC.
The project will see “130 of the State’s current data centres to be consolidated into two superior facilities”. According to a release from NSW Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance, GovDC “will act as a ‘marketplace’ where government agencies can source reliable infrastructure, platform and software all as a service from existing shared service and other third party providers.”
NSW Health, the Departments of Finance and Services, Education and Communities and Corrective Services are already using the new data centres, which are located at Silverwater and Unanderra. All NSW Government agencies are to migrate their data centre operations to GovDC no later than August 2017.