The New South Wales (NSW) state government in Australia yesterday went to market for its desktop, notebook and small server needs for at least the next three years, designating the ability to purchase Linux-based systems as "highly desirable".
The state will soon appoint a limited number of vendors to a series of panels that will supply the (substantial) hardware needs of all NSW agencies from November this year until October 2009, with two possible two-year extensions.
"This new arrangement will replace the government's existing Contract ITS2000 for personal computers, notebooks, servers and Contract 2100 for computer maintenance services," the government said in tender documents issued today. ITS2000 commenced in 2001 and expires on 31 October this year.
The Linux needs were listed in the section detailing the state's hardware requirements, with "can supply Linux at customer's request" being a highly desirable characteristic of potential suppliers of desktop and notebook systems.
Microsoft's far more popular Windows XP home operating system was also specified. The state listed Windows Server in addition to Linux and Novell's Netware operating system among its requirements in its server requirements.
The NSW government's Linux requirement is unusual given that the open source operating system has struggled to gain acceptance on the desktops of Australian organisations. It is, however, widely used in server environments.
However, the move also continues a trend by the state to signal its interest in Linux, and comes as earlier this year suppliers such as IBM, Novell and CSC were signed to a panel to supply NSW agencies with Linux and open source services.
The NSW government is one of the largest purchasers of IT hardware in Australia.
"This is a significant request for tender as government agencies and other eligible customers spend approximately AU$175m per annum on the range of products listed below," the state's tender documents said.
For example, the NSW Department of Education and Training has a managed desktop fleet of 160,000, with the NSW Department of Health clocking in at a substantial 45,000.
With the new arrangements floated yesterday, the state will attempt to achieve savings, as well as streamline the procurement process for agencies and industry.
The news comes as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has recently stipulated that Intel's latest Core 2 Duo processors must be at the heart of its own desktop refresh project.
However, the NSW government has more modest requirements based on Intel's Pentium 4 architecture or AMD equivalent running at 3GHz for desktops, with slower CPU speeds of 1.5GHz for laptops.
Previous suppliers to the state under the old ITS2000 contract expiring 31 October had included Acer, ASI Solutions, Auspac, Dell, HP, Hypec, IBM, Optima, Panasonic, Pioneer, Todaytech and Toshiba.
The state will hold a briefing this Thursday in Sydney for interested suppliers.