NSW Govt seeks storage as a service


news The New South Wales State Government has gone to market for storage as a service capabilities to replace its existing in-house storage solutions, in a move that will add to the rapid ramp-up of the state’s adoption of cloud computing services.

According to a request for tender document issued by shared services department ServiceFirst — which provides a range of services to a number of departments and agencies throughout the State Government — much of the state’s enterprise storage capacity is currently hosted in two ServiceFirst datacentres — the massive Global Switch facility in the Sydney suburb of Ultimo, and the new Metronode government datacentre at the Illawarra suburb of Unanderra. Hardware platforms from HP, Netapp and Hitachi are used.

ServiceFirst also hosts data communications infrastructure at the Metronode government datacentre at the Sydney suburb of Silverwater. Storage workloads for some systems are replicated across the high speed interlinks between data centres. The current backup platform is Commvault Simpana v10.

However, the documents state that the State Government is looking for a provider of storage services to ServiceFirst “on a consumption-based pricing model”.

The Department of Finance & Services “is responsible for driving the NSW Government ICT Strategy which details a shift to a service focus for ICT in government, rather than the current asset ownership model,” the document states. “DFS is aiming to have technology delivered by an external service provider. Key initiatives in the short term are to provision storage for new workloads, and migrate existing workloads to Storage as a Service to free up capacity on existing on premise platforms to allow for expansion of other existing workloads.”

The state is seeking to have storage units (known as logical unit numbers or LUNs) of “varying performance and capacity specifications” made available to servers located in ServiceFirst datacentres, as well as storage as a service platforms made available in the form of CIFS or NFS network share facilities presented to the ServiceFirst datacentre network, with integration to ServiceFirst’s Active Directory identity management platform.

In addition, the state may also be looking for snapshot capability and inter‐site storage replication for certain LUNs for systems spanning more than one ServiceFirst data centre; Switching services for connectivity between the Storage as a Service infrastructure and ServiceFirst hosts; and Backup as a Service for Storage as a Service and ServiceFirst hosts.

The news comes several months after the NSW Government formalised its already extremely proactive and positive approach towards the adoption of the new class of cloud computing services within its operations, issuing a new cloud computing policy which forces departments and agencies to consider the cloud when undertaking ICT procurements.

In a statement, new NSW Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance said cloud services facilitated “simple, convenient and on demand access” to a shared pool of computing services and the deployment of such technology was a key goal of the NSW Government’s 2012 ICT Strategy.

“Cloud is the future of ICT service delivery and this policy puts NSW at the forefront of the digital economy, giving public sector agencies the tools and information they need to adopt cloud-based solutions,” Constance said. “The policy will be used by decision makers to drive innovation, efficiencies and deliver better outcomes when entering into arrangements with suppliers of ICT services. It will improve service delivery by allowing more agile, flexible and reliable technology and it will deliver cost savings by helping us get better value for money for these services.”

The news comes as the NSW State Government has recently claimed initial success in its high-profile deployment of a cloud-based ERP consolidation project at the NSW agency of Trade and Investment, claiming that so far the project has been delivered “on time and on budget”, but with a large chunk of the work still to go.

The state has also kicked off two trials of virtual desktop and cloud email services, in a move which could eventually signal a mass migration of some 30,000 government users into the cloud.

The State Governments of Queensland and Victoria have also indicated recently that they believe cloud computing will represent a large part of the future of enterprise IT deployments, and are also shifting their procurement frameworks along cloud lines.

Great to see this kind of forward-thinking, proactive move by the NSW State Government, and I’d like to see other states follow.

Image credit: Natalie Singh, royalty free