[LINK] Australian Government Data Centre as a Service

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue Mar 1 09:23:26 AEDT 2011

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), has 
issued a "Data Centre as a Service Discussion Paper" and invited 
industry comment: 

The Data Centre as a Service (DCaaS) facility would provide a shared 
data centre for smaller agencies (50 spend less than $2M a year on ICT). 
It is planned to have the service available in the second half of 2011, 
so this will have to be an existing data centre, not a new building.

The idea of DCaaS, which is included in the "Australian Government Data 
Centre Strategy 2010‑2025": 

The way comment from industry is invited is of interest. As well as 
confidential comments by email, industry is invited to post to the AGIMO 
blog. There is no separate "paper" and "questionnaire" provided (no use 
of PDF). The paper is published as a blog entry with space to type 
answers to questions included.

When at the Commonwealth Schools Commission I programmed a shared 
mainframe computer system provided by Special Minister of State. In the 
main this worked well. There were some problems because SMOS was another 
government agency and so there was no way to legally enforce a service 
agreement, but if you have to take your supplier to court, you have failed.

My suggestion would be for AGIMO to tender for a basic hosting service, 
with add-ons as options. Later consider a cloud service. It should be 
noted that use of shared web based applications could greatly reduce the 
amount of computing equipment required and so the size of the data 
centre needed. My experience suggests this would reduce equipment 
requirements by a factor of 100, through more efficient software, more 
efficient data storage and sharing the hardware. In place of a data 
centre the size of a football field, one the size of a traditional 
Australian suburban quarter-acre block of land would be sufficient.

Here are my answers to the questions asked:

Question 1 of 5: Is this scope realistic and will it achieve worthwhile 
results? Should the scope of DCaaS include applications, and if so, 
which ones?

The scope is realistic. However, the short time-frame will exclude new 
builds.The DCaaS should exclude applications, which could be the subject 
of a separate process, as it raises many more issues.

Question 2 of 5: Are there any other suggestions that you think should 
be included?

The service should provide for at least two physical locations more than 
300 km apart, to allow for backup.

Question 3 of 5: Why would one of these options be better than any 
other? What option would you propose?

Basic hosting would be the most suitable place to start, as it is the 
easiest. Disaster Recovery Hosting & Services should be provided 
primarily by having at least two sites.

Full Outsourced Services, Full Managed Services should be separate 
services, avialable as an option through separate contracts not 
necessarily via the data centre provider.

Scalable ICT Delivery (Cloud) should be considered separately. The 
software issues are considerable. AGIMO should consider a suite of 
shared web based applications for smaller agencies.

Question 4 of 5: If presented to the market, which of the offerings 
listed above might your organisation bid for?

    1. a) Hosting
    2. b) Disaster Recovery Hosting & Services
    3. c) Full Outsourced Services
    4. d) Full Managed Services
    5. e) Scalable ICT Delivery

AGIMO might be surprised by the large number of organisations which can 
provide these services. Even scalable ICT delivery is now something 
available using free open source software within the capabilities of the 
average university ICT graduate.

Question 5 of 5: What factors do you sees as leading to success or 
failure in the provision of DCaaS to Government. This may include 
contract terms, service level agreements, data security and mobility, 
intellectual property or data ownership.

Trying to provide more than basic hosting would make the project very 
complex and likely to fail. Better to start simple. It is suggested that 
basic hosting with at least two locations for disaster recovery be provided.

It is suggested that Full Outsourced Services and Full Managed Services 
be considered later as options. However, for smaller agencies it might 
be feasible to then step directly to a cloud based service, providing 
shared web based applications for agencies. AGIMO could provide some 
basic services for free, such as an office application suite, a social 
networking and email service for all public servants, and then offer 
additional services, such as HR, finance and recruitment management, as 
an optional extra paid for by corporate credit card.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
Visiting Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre: http://bit.ly/csiro_ict_canberra

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