[LINK] Australian Government Data Centre as a Service

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Sat Mar 5 11:30:29 AEDT 2011

Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
> On 2/03/2011 9:11 AM, Tom Worthington wrote:
>> I am not sure that the government will need as much space as has been
>> predicted. ..
> I'd dispute most of that.
> You made a prediction about three years that the government's data 
> centre space would fall from 10,000sm to 100sm and all be put in 
> containers. As it turned out, by the end of the year the government was 
> reporting that it had 30,000sm ...

The government increased their estimate for space needed, so I revised 
up my estimate in the message you are commenting on.

> And if you are suggesting that Centrelink throws out its Model 204 based 
> applications and puts in web applications ...

No, replacing Centrelink's Model 204 database is the last thing I would 
suggest, literally. Highly structured bespoke database systems should be 
last to be replaced.

> ... agencies that use mainframe based OLTP applications replaced them with 
> web applications, then I'm afraid you just don't understand enterprise 
> systems and the costs involved in replacing them. ...

No, I suggested replacing things like email, HR, finance and social

> Not only that but the government's data storage requirements are growing 
> at 60-80% compound per year. ...

I suspect that the government data storage is mostly wasted space, due 
to duplicate copies of poorly formatted documents. As an example, AGIMO 
selected a different word processing format for creating documents, to 
that already selected for archiving documents. So there will need to be 
at least two copies of everything kept: the version as created and the 
archival copy.

> Gershon ...  recommendation about reducing the number of
> contractors ...  moved into permanent positions ... higher grade
> levels ...

If the ex-contractors can work more effectively as staff, there will be 
an overall saving.

> And the data centre strategy was about cost avoidance, not cost savings. ...

Consolidating data centres would seem to me to be bound to create
genuine savings.

>> If there is less paperwork to go through to use the shared facility and
>> it is cheaper, then this should not be a problem for agencies.
> Paperwork is the least of their problems. ...

Setting up a data centre involves numerous checks and approvals. These 
take a lot of time, effort and expense. Using a pre-approved centre is 
much simpler.

> And who said it would be cheaper? 

I did.

> The current set of little data rooms that many of the small agencies use are cheap, but unreliable ...

Agencies were meeting the required standard with the computer facilities 
and the consolidated centre would meet a similar standard.

Roger Clarke wrote:
 > On 2/03/2011 9:11 AM, Tom Worthington wrote:
 >>  ... If bespoke applications are replaced with standard web based
 >>  ones, the processing and data storage requirements will be much 
 > A proportion of business functions can be supported by standardised apps.
 > ... Think doc prep, spreadsheet modellers, calendar, time-sheets, 
etc. ...

Yes, that is what I had in mind.

 > My impression is that a lot of small-scale apps being developed in
 > government are very specific ...

Yes, I would suggest, at least initially, not attempting to change these

 > Even something as apparently generic
 > as grants admin is a lot more variable than you'd think, e.g.
 > AusIndustry and the ARC have very different needs. ...

Yes, but underlying these applications are some basic functions, such as
electronic records management.

John Hilvert wrote:
 > I like your idea of a cloud-based set of office apps for smaller
 > agencies. ... But if that's the case, then AGIMO's discussion paper 
should have
 > positioned its discussion paper proposals more assertively. ...

No. I see the issue of consolidating data centres and using cloud based
applications as two initiatives which can be done independently.
Equipment from different agencies can be consolidated into shared data
centres, achieving useful savings without forcing the them to share
hardware or applications. At the same time for some functions, public
servants can be provided with cloud based applications.

 > Could DCaaS be a solution looking for a problem? ...

No. Seems obvious to me that if I am a little agency I don't go out and
build my own data centre.

 > It doesn't help that they use an ugly and ambiguous name for the
 > offering - DCaaS. It's more like scalable IT outsourcing. ...

Outsourcing is an even uglier word for many. ;-)

 > ... deal with Centrelink to pilot a trial ...

Yes. This cloud idea has been floating around for a while (pun 
intended). Yusuf J. Mansuri from Department of Human Services discussed 
a government cloud, run by a big agency for the small ones, at a 
conference last year: 

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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