​CSIRO to establish government supercomputer panel

While the Digital Transformation Agency looks to overhaul the Australian government's panel procurement process, the CSIRO is moving to establish a panel of vendors to offer scientific compute, data hardware, and related services.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

CSIRO Bracewell supercomputer

Image: Supplied

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is looking to establish a standing offer panel which will comprise of vendors to support and provide high-performance computing (HPC).

As with other government panels, the new panel will provide CSIRO with access to goods and services from pre-selected vendors, negating the need to go to tender for scientific compute, data hardware, and associated services.

"As CSIRO operates in a continually evolving data-intensive research environment, the demand and application of machine learning, simulation science, modelling, and data analysis within CSIRO projects is growing sharply, and from every indicator is going to increase further," the panel statement of requirements explains.

"For CSIRO to remain competitive and continue to deliver relevant high impact research there is an ongoing need for large-scale scientific computing and data hardware as a critical tool for success."

It is a requirement that selected panellists have supplied goods or services in the past five years to one of the supercomputer centres that operate HPC facilities in the Top500 or Green500.

The successful panellists will also be required to supply scientific compute hardware such as blade servers and chassis, and rack mounted systems; data hardware including massively scalable data storage solutions; interconnects and storage fabrics; scientific compute software; associated services such as configuration, installation, support services, and technical support; and the provision of externally-hosted HPC capability as a utility service.

In addition to the technical specs sought by the CSIRO, the panellists may be required to provide "supplemental ICT technical skillsets" for short and medium-term projects.

The panel will be accessible for Australian government departments wishing to procure supercomputing and related services.

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The panel search comes as the Australian government's Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is seeking feedback on its draft ICT Procurement Framework, which is aimed at bringing the government into the "digital age" by changing the way contracts are awarded.

In attempting to spread the AU$6.5 billion spent annually on IT by the government, the DTA highlighted six emerging themes, one of which includes a panel makeover.

The DTA agreed with feedback it received that panels are an archaic process that requires a refresh, in particular needing a reduction in the number.

The DTA oversees a handful of IT-related whole-of-government panels, including the Cloud Services Panel, Data Centre Facilities Supplies Panel, the ICT Hardware Panel, and the Telecommunications Panel, as well as both SAP and Microsoft arrangements. The Department of Finance similarly handles the Enterprise Resource Planning Software as a Services Panel.

The tender closes May 17, with those appointed to the panel to be notified by August 10, 2018.


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