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Just 5 agencies can use datacentre panel

Not all federal government agencies can apply for datacentre resources under the newly formed interim datacentre panel. In fact, only five have been cleared to do so, according to the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).

Not all federal government agencies can apply for datacentre resources under the newly formed interim datacentre panel. In fact, only five have been cleared to do so, according to the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).

(CERN Datacentre, CERN, Geneva image by Cory Doctorow, CC2.0)

The five agencies who were allowed to purchase datacentre services under the government's new panel — put in place to fill the gap until its new datacentre strategy came into full swing — would be able to buy services up to March 2010. At that time the panel would be closed, although the panel vendors would still provide services, according to AGIMO division manager for business improvement John Sheridan. He said that the agencies should be able to forecast their need, making the short time span enough.

Sheridan would not name the five agencies, but said that the number included Centrelink which had already settled on Canberra Data Centres to provide its extra datacentre requirements in a $4.88 million contract. Sheridan said that although this deal had been made outside the panel, it had been done in conjunction with the formation of the panel.

The five vendors hadn't been reluctant to sign on to the panel, despite the low number of agencies who would be accessing it, according to Sheridan. New agencies could apply to be able to use the panel, he said, but they would have to show their need by proving, for example, that an existing contract had just run out or that their demand had expanded significantly.

Agencies who didn't fit those criteria will have to wait for the whole-of-government datacentre strategy. A report detailing options for the strategy will be completed by the end of the year, according to Sheridan. When it's completed, the secretary's ICT Governance board (comprised of members at the secretary or CEO level and chaired by Department of Finance and Regulation secretary David Tune) will consider its recommendations and put forward its considerations to government.

The report will have a broad scope. "At the moment, we're definitely not ruling any options out," Sheridan said, adding that it will raise many ideas from agencies having their own decentralised datacentres, to the government buying infrastructure as a service. "It depends on where the value for money lies," he said, adding that Sir Peter Gershon — who had suggested in his report on federal government IT that the government needed a whole-of-government datacentre approach — had only wanted the government to have a concerted strategy so that it didn't "unknowingly go ahead".

The report will have input from AGIMO staff, from staff seconded from agencies as well as from external parties. CPT Global was asked to conduct a survey on government datacentre demand for $286,935, while another company was paid to complete survey of the supply in the market place. Gartner was hired to do a study on trends in the technology.