7 more agencies seek interim datacentres

Seven more federal government agencies, including the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, have applied to buy datacentre capacity from the government's new interim datacentre panel.

Seven more federal government agencies, including the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, have applied to buy datacentre capacity from the government's new interim datacentre panel.


(Datacentre 3 image by Simon Picken, CC2.0)

The government put the panel in place to service agency requirements until the proposed new datacentre strategy, being created to avoid wasting $1 billion over the next 15 years via decentralised datacentres, came into being. Agencies were not allowed to use the panel automatically, but instead had to apply to use it, showing "reasonable cause" to the Secretaries' ICT Governance Board.

"We are in discussion with some other agencies at the moment about interim arrangements," David Tune, secretary for the Department of Finance and Deregulation and chair of the Secretary's Board said last week in Senate Estimates.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission; the Bureau of Meteorology; the Department of Climate Change; the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts; the Department of Immigration and Citizenship; and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research were the agencies now looking for datacentre capacity to tide them over until the government gets its strategy into gear.

Tune also revealed the five agencies which had already been cleared to purchase services from the panel, one of which was the Department of Defence. The others were Centrelink, the Therapeutic Goods Association as well as the Department of Parliamentary Services and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

The panel is open for purchases until March 2010. Canberra Data Centres, Fujitsu Australia, Global Switch Property Australia, Harbour MSP and Polaris Data Centres have been appointed to the panel.

At the estimates, Liberal Senator Helen Coonan also grilled Australian Government CIO Ann Steward on the industry effects of the government's datacentre strategy and other actions taken on recommendation of the Gershon report .

"It has caused private investment to evaporate because people cannot do any tenancy deals until AGIMO [the Australian Government Information Management Office] releases its new datacentre strategy. Is that right?" she asked.

Steward said the government had maintained an open dialogue with the industry about its intentions. "Any industry party would need to look on its own basis for what commercial activity it wanted to pursue," she said.

Coonan pointed out that since the moratorium on non-central purchasing of datacentre services, Centrelink and Defence had suffered severe outages on their datacentres.

Steward said that was the reason it had moved so quickly to help Centrelink with its datacentre needs. It was the first to sign a deal, worth $4.88 million with panellist Canberra Data Centres, before the panel was even formed.

Coonan wasn't placated. "It is obviously a work in progress, but just how far reaching the Gershon reforms are and what they are going to achieve in the long run is something that we will watch with interest," she said.

Labor Senator Nick Sherry pointed out that the Gershon reforms had achieved $570 million in savings.

"There is a lot of money in progress, but there are a lot of consequences also, minister. If you are going to undertake these processes, it is critical that the opportunity costs and the other problems that the industry faces are taken into account. It is not a net figure if you have got businesses suffering these kinds of problems and agencies suffering problems if they continue. Obviously, there is a cost to all of this that has to be taken into account. You cannot just talk about a net figure and not also count the costs," Coonan said.

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