Australian government launches search for cloud services panel

The Department of Finance has listed a request for tender on AusTender for suppliers interested in helping the government establish a whole-of-government cloud services panel.

The hunt for suppliers to help establish a whole-of-government cloud services panel has been launched today.

John Sheridan, Australian government chief technology officer, announced that the request for tender has been released on AusTender. 

The panel will provide a non-mandatory procurement mechanism for agencies to access cloud services, including software, platform, and infrastructure as a service, and special cloud services, without the need for a full approach to market.

"The panel aims to offer agencies scalable and flexible cloud services via industry offerings and do so in a way that reduces the burden on industry," Sheridan said.

The tender announcement comes after the federal government engaged with agencies for comment ahead of establishing the whole-of-government cloud panel. A total of 418 comments were submitted. 

While some comments suggested that a multi-use list would be a better option, Sheridan argued that it's a longer process that would need to be repeated each time an agency wants to conduct a procurement, and it would also mean companies would receive relatively little work.

Sheridan has also previously told ZDNet that there was the option for the government to build its own cloud, as well as the option of going with one provider for a whole-of-government cloud, but neither were practical or ideal.

Sheridan said the plan for the panel is that once a supplier is accepted for a particular category, the supplier will be able to add further services in that category through the services catalogue without a tender evaluation. Additional categories are also expected to be added at refresh points during the life of the panel.

"Eventually, we envisage this being a largely self-service facility with only a final approval step by Finance," he said.

As a whole, the Australian government has been taking steps to implement cloud technology within the government, including making plans to move the Australia.gov.au and Finance.gov.au into the public cloud, and establishing a datacentre as a service provider panel, which has resulted in 30 contracts signed at June 2014.