[LINK] NBN and the data centre: Time to update Gershon?

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu Sep 10 09:10:45 AEST 2009

Someone needs to explain to me how an elastic cloud environment with all 
its extra overhead of resource management and chargeback can be more 
efficient than a dedicated, virtualised environment.

I've asked some of the leading proponents of cloud computing but so far 
they have not come up with a satisfactory answer.

And if Bob Hayward thinks that the only issue regarding locating data 
centres in or out of Canberra is power, then he's either ignoring or 
ignorant of ICON. The NBN is unlikely to be a valid alternative in terms 
of cost and latency.

NBN and the data centre: Time to update Gershon?
by James Riley
Wednesday, 09 September 2009

Just one year after UK efficiency expert Sir Peter Gershon handed the 
Commonwealth his report on government ICT procurement and use, experts 
are already saying in the case of the data centre it might be time for 
another look.

Global tech services giant CSC says the fat pipes of the National 
Broadband Network and the much matured market for virtualisation 
software meant the savings anticipated by Gershon through data 
consolidation measures may have been understated.

And the environmental and sustainability improvements delivered by 
combination of the NBN and virtualisation technologies should give 
government good reason to take another look at medium-term data centre 
plans, according to CSC Australia chief innovation and technology 
officer Bob Hayward.

As the bandwidth of the NBN becomes a reality, the broadband network 
will start to accelerate the shift to cloud model, and the Commonwealth 
should think now about Government Cloud models, he said.

Power consumption issues are non-trivial. Hayward says data centres 
around the world consume more energy than Argentina, and doubles every 5 
– 7 years. And 6 to 8 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions 
are directly attributable to ICT use.

Consolidated data centres and virtualised environments, coupled with the 
ability to shift processing loads and data more easily across the NBN, 
created opportunity for government to pursue cloud models.

"Gershon (conducted the review) really just before Cloud took hold," 
Hayward told iTWire. "It talked a lot about consolidated data centres 
and virtualisation, but how you then move beyond virtualisation into 
these flexible, self-provisioning, really agile computing environments 
with pay-as-you-go models – that is something I don’t think was quite 
there when (Sir Peter) did his reviews in the UK and in Australia."

"These are things you need to look at the medium term … certainly it 
needs to be on the planning horizon," he said. "If organisations in 
Government are looking at consolidating their data centres in 12 to 18 
months then why not do that with some view to private government 
cloud-type infrastructure."

CSC clearly wants to figure in the Commonwealth’s post-Gershon data 
centre plans, and in its broader service provisioning markets.

Though Hayward believes that for the most part software as a 
service-style offerings probably isn’t quite ready for the kind of 
primetime use that meets Government’s risk-averse needs, so-called 
Platform as a Service infrastructure opportunities are a different matter.

"The clear early wins in this area are going to be in infrastructure," 
Hayward said. "So, for example, why have every agency have its own test 
and development environment, when that can be made available in a shared 
pool, and on an as-needed basis."

"That makes a lot of sense. That’s low hanging fruit. And we think the 
savings – including environmental/sustainability savings – would be 

Government is getting closer to formalising its forward data centre 
strategy, with the Australian Government Information Management Office 
(AGIMO) set to complete its formulations by the end of the year.

The usual suspects among large agencies look at varying stages of 
readiness. Centrelink signed a long-term enterprise licensing deal with 
virtualisation leader VMware earlier this year; Immigration (a big CSC 
customer) is getting quite sophisticated in their thinking on such 
issues following the Systems for People program; and Australian Taxation 
Office is already doing leading things in the space.

Vendors will get a glimpse at how AGIMO is thinking about the data 
centre future when it names it panel contract for suppliers of data 
centre services in the next two weeks.

Regardless, CSC’s Hayward says the NBN and advances in virtualisation 
servicers – particularly features like VMware’s vMotion, which enables 
applications to be easily and dynamically shifted between physical data 
centres on the fly – Government should tweak its Gershon-inspired 
roadmap to enhance its environmental deliverables.

"We should think about the optimal locations for these (data centre) 
facilities. Do they really need to be in Canberra, drawing power from 
the electricity grid – for example? Or can they be powered by gas, or 
some renewables," Hayward said.

"We have to get smarter about the sorts of data centres we build, where 
they are, and the kind of power that they consume."

"We need to be thinking out of the box now. We need to think of other 
ways to power data centres. We shouldn’t just be thinking about the 
normal way of doing things."


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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