The NSW Government has announced it will consolidate its existing 130 data centres, but provided no detail on the processes that will be involved to achieve this outcome.
On 1 February 2009, NSW GCIO Emanuel Rodriguez was quoted in MIS magazine saying, “The NSW government operates more than 130 data centres, many of them located in the central business district within ageing infrastructures. We’re going to pull all of these resources tougher into two data centres that run on more reliable, efficient technology”.
The consolidation will take 10 years to complete according to an article in the Australian on 28 October 2008 which extensively quoted Rodriguez on the same topic.
Consolidation of infrastructure is understood to now be one of the eight elements of the NSW ICT Plan, People First. The plan has undergone substantial revision since it was first launched two and a half years ago by then Government Chief Information Officer, Paul Edgecumbe, but is yet to be given public exposure.
According to the Government Chief Information Office’s organisation structure and job description statements issued last year, the Infrastructure Division, headed up by Colin Griffiths is ”involved in co-locating current data centre infrastructure into purpose-built, high quality facilities capable of handling future technologies’ power and cooling requirements, whilst also fulfilling the Government’s demand for data centre space.”
A restricted tender was called early in 2008 for the conduct of an audit to assess the state of current data centres. It is understood that the resultant data centre business case has been through the mandatory ‘business case gateway’ and was due for submission to NSW Treasury on 2 February.
A submission of this kind at this time is likely destined for consideration by the Expenditure Review Committee of Cabinet as part of the NSW Budget framing process.
If this is the case, the consolidation process can start no earlier than the start of the 2009-10 financial year. Until it is formally announced in the Budget, it is highly unlikely that there will be any detail on whether this initiative is funded or to what extent.
Rodriquez is unlikely to have made the statement to MIS last week unless he was confident of both Treasury and Ministerial support for the project. If the data centre consolidation proposal survives the array of scrutinizing processes between now and the Budget, it is logical to see it emerge as a Budget-funded project in 2009-10. According to the October Australian IT article, Rodriguez sees that the fact that Carmen Tebutt is both Minister for Commerce and Minister for Climate Change as ‘a boon for the state’s data centre rationalisation’.
The sixty-million dollar question then becomes, how will the Government go about the procurement process; who will build the data centres, who will own them and who will operate them?
To date, infrastructure management for NSW Government has been completely in-sourced with entities such as Businesslink and State First providing services to clusters of departments.