news The Queensland State Government has gone to market to set up a whole of government cloud computing panel which would allow its many departments and agencies to purchase IT infrastructure services in this category from a set list of suppliers.
In its tendering documents, the state said that it was responding to two key recommendations included in the 2012 Commission of Audit report led by former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello.
The first recommendation stated that the Government should adopt an “ICT as a service” strategy and source ICT services, especially commoditised services, from private providers in a contestable market, where this was feasible and represented value for money. Secondly, the Costello report recommended the Government utilise (as appropriate) cloud based computing and other emerging technologies as enablers to complement its ICT as a service strategy.
The setup of the panel comes six months after the Queensland’s first comprehensive ICT Audit revealed that ninety percent of the State Government’s ICT systems are outdated and will require replacement within five years at a total cost of $7.4 billion, as Queensland continues to grapple with the catastrophic outcome of years of “chronic underfunding” into its dilapidated ICT infrastructure.
As one of many tactics aimed at rectifying the problems, the Queensland Government has committed to adopting a ‘cloud first’ strategy which will agencies required to evaluate cloud computing options prior to making any new investments in IT. This approach was pioneered in the US Federal Government and is also being instituted in NSW.
Through the procurement process kicked off this week by the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, the department said that it was seeking to enter into a standing offer arrangement with a panel of between 10 and 15 “qualified and experienced” organisations to provide Infrastructure as a Service solutions for the Queensland Government.
At a high level, the state is initially seeking to get access to Virtual Machine (VM) compute, storage and network capacity delivered in a public multi-tenant cloud environment with multiple grades of service, with support for commodity x86 workloads.
Through provisioning servers and storage in an IaaS model, Queenland is hoping to be able to achieve: An “evergreen hardware model” which will breaking its existing technology upgrade cycle; a a reduction in the impact of vendors’ product upgrades; an improvement in efficiency where standard solutions are adopted; greater flexibility to adopt ‘fit for purpose’ ICT systems; support for ease of service provisioning and ‘right sizing’ of services; and the enablement of regular alignment of changing business systems and processes with ICT.
It is also seeking to achieve lower costs by only paying only for services used; scalability on demand; a model which requires no capital investment and the realignment of in-house ICT capability from building and operating ICT solutions to improving business service delivery.
In addition, it is expected that services provided under this arrangement will be required to integrate into a broader cloud brokerage model in the future as the Queensland Government develops its long term cloud strategy. This may also include the establishment of a government community cloud for IaaS (subject to further demand justification and a business case).
What this procurement initiative really demonstrates is just how far behind the rest of the IT industry the Queensland Government is right now when it comes to cloud computing adoption. It looks as though the state is trying to shift as many basic x86 workloads into the cloud as fast as possible, in an attempt to rapidly boost its agility and cut costs.
If you look at the adoption of cloud computing as a total cycle, this is very much just the start of the journey. IaaS usually starts with virtualisation of internal server resources, then usually progresses to advanced datacentre and virtualisation management, then internal private cloud, then moving some workloads onto external clouds, then moving more workloads onto external clouds, even public, multi-tenantd clouds.
I would bet that much of the Queensland Government’s server resources are not even virtualised yet, and that the setup of this IaaS panel represents the first step in forcing departments and agencies to go down that path and start transferring workloads to more sustainable and reliable (as well as cheaper) external providers. We’ve pretty much seen the same thing in NSW, although NSW so far appears to be doing a better, more coherent job of the process than Queensland.