Govt looks at cloud for shared resources

Infrastructure-as-service model mooted in tender documents

Government has signalled the start of discussions towards an infrastructure-as a-service (IaaS) environment for agencies to share common applications and storage resources.

The Department of Internal Affairs, in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development and "a number of other agencies", has issued a preliminary Notice of Intention (NoI) to explore "shared datacentre hosting, virtual storage services and virtualised server services."

This signals a move along the private cloud track which Government Technology Services head Stephen Crombie signalled last year as "definitely on the horizon". GTS is the arm of DIA responsible for operational cross-agency ICT.

Any shared infrastructure, however, will have to be New Zealand-based, says DIA. This forestalls potential controversy about control over data and applications in any form of international cloud computing.

Last month, at the Future Perfect conference on digital preservation, DIA representatives Danny Mollan and Adam Stapleton talked of the difficulty in negotiating terms and conditions with international cloud providers and suggested sacrifices might have to be made in areas such as privacy and sovereignty to take advantage of some cloud offerings.

Most public-sector agencies use similar and commoditised services for their core ICT infrastructure requirements, DIA says.

"However, despite the similarity in service requirements, there is very little sharing or collaboration among them. This leads to high levels of duplication on many fronts, including design, procurement, supply contracts, technology and infrastructure," DIA says.

Use of an outsourced common infrastructure could be "significantly more cost-effective for government than the current fragmented agency-by-agency approach," the NoI document says.

The NoI will be followed in about two weeks by a Request for Information (RFI) to interested providers. "The objective of the RFI will be for the Department to seek and obtain information from suppliers that are interested in participating in the development of an IaaS model that would be capable of all-of-government adoption," says DIA.

The precise form such adoption will take -- if the project goes ahead -- has yet to be decided, says the NoI document. Options include a syndicated procurement, a "large cluster contract" or procurement through a "centre of expertise" similar to schemes already in place for laptops, desktops, multifunctional devices, cars and stationery.

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