More major IT contracts up for grabs in SA


news The South Australian State Government today revealed that it would shortly be kicking off a huge new round of IT purchasing initiatives which would affect a string of major whole of government contracts, as part of its long-running Future ICT Services Arrangements program.

One of the aims of the program, which has been playing out over the past decade, was the realisation of South Australia’s intention to exit from its massive 10-year IT outsourcing contract with Texan giant Electronic Data Systems, with the deal to be broken up into a large number of chunks and farmed out, often to other suppliers.

The completion of that contract took place in 2007, but South Australia is still gradually working through a series of contracts which are gradually coming to full term, with the initiative being steered by the state’s whole of government chief information officer Andrew Mills.

In a notice published through the state’s tendering system this week, Mills’ office noted that on 7 March it would hold an open industry briefing to provide the industry with information regarding the next round of contracts to be signed under the Future ICT Services Arrangements program.

The state’s Minister for the Public Sector, Michael O’Brien, and its ICT Board chair, Jim Hallion will speak at the briefing. “Attendees will be given high level information regarding the State’s ICT sourcing directions with a view to supporting industry engagement in the upcoming market approach -‘Tranche 3 Services Expression of Interest (EOI),” the note states.

In late January this year South Australia updated its public status document (PDF) to detail which contracts would be within scope of the Tranche 3 contracts to be discussed at the briefing.

In that list, the state noted that it had recently completed negotiating a new client computing (desktop PCs and laptops) and server equipment panel, with new contracts expected to commence from February this year. Previously the state bought the hardware through Acer, Dell and HP, in a contract initiated back in 2006 and which had been slated to end on 30 June 2011. It is not clear which suppliers now sit on the panel.

The state is also currently negotiating a printer and photocopier equipment panel, with new contracts in that area expected to begin in July this year. It is believed that Canon, Fuji-Xerox, Kyocera-Mita and Ricoh currently provide the state with its photocopier needs, with HP, Kyocera-Mita and Ricoh working in the printer area.

In the briefing next week, the state will primarily look at telecommunications contracts, including managed network services, ISP services, mobile carriage services, telecommunications services in general, “active devices” contracts (for example, routers), PABX maintenance and electronic messaging (email). However, it will also look at its Microsoft enterprise contract.

In the past, suppliers such as Dimension Data, Telstra, Internode, NEC and Cisco have been the prime beneficiaries from new telecommunications contracts in the South Australian Government. Other major contracts not yet in scope for the state include mainframe computing, storage and hosting services.

So far South Australia is the only state jurisdiction which appears to be doing a decent job of managing its whole of government technology contracts, with every other major state appearing over the past few years to have dropped the ball completely in the area. We just don’t hear about many whole of government technology contracts from states such as Queensland, NSW and Victoria any more. And I’m not surprised, with a series of audit reports over the past few years making it clear that when it comes to the governance of technology rollouts, those states have a lot of learning to do.

So what would I like to see from South Australia’s Tranche 3 of contracts? Well, of course it’s hard to say where each vendor sits relative to each other at the moment.

However, in general, I suspect Telstra still has a huge lion’s share of telecommunications contracts in South Australia. I’d like to see some of that work farmed out to Optus, which has a good and growing enterprise division, and local player Internode continue to pick up as much Internet services work as possible as well.

When it comes to PABX gear, I’d like to see some recognition of the worth of shifting to modern IP telephony platforms, with Cisco and Avaya getting gurnseys in that area, as they’re the dominant players in that still emerging field. In switching, if that is in scope, it’d be nice to see Cisco given some competition by the likes of HP ProCurve. Switches in 2012 don’t always need to cost the earth.

As for email, if that area needs work, I’m sure an integrator like Dimension Data will pick up some work there. Realistically, for an organisation like the South Australian Government, Microsoft Outlook/Exchange is basically the only option. I’m sure there are still some Lotus Notes and even GroupWise installations in Adelaide which need to be “upgraded” to Exchange.

Did I miss anything?


  1. HP is quite prevalent through the Public schools in SA, as most network run using 3Com/H3C/HP equipment in preference to Cisco, simply due to costs. Everytime I’ve had a quote from a preferred Cisco vendor, my costs have been around the $80k mark, whereas my HP/H3C solution was around the $25-$30k, for often better specd equipment. This has actually forced Cisco pricing down, but there is still a significant premium over the HP/H3C solution.

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