149K govt machines need upgrade before XP dies

Government may turn to thin-client computing to help it handle the end of Windows XP support in 2014

The government sees thin-client computers not only as a means of economising on ICT costs, but as a way of reducing the work and cost burden of desktop renewal arising from Microsoft’s ending support for Windows XP, used by a large number of government agencies.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has accordingly put out a request for proposal (RFP) for a panel of suppliers of thin-client machines. The number of members of the panel is as yet undetermined and will depend on the proposals received, says the MBIE’s RFP.

Currently at least 36 public sector agencies are using thin-client devices. Inland Revenue has rolled out 7900 thin-client machines, MBIE says, as part of its desktop upgrade contract with HP.

“With Microsoft ending support for the Windows XP operating system an estimated 149,000 governmental machines will require upgrading by 2014,” says MBIE. “This will provide a great opportunity for thin-client computers to be pushed as an optimal solution” for the future.

The thin-client contract will be managed as part of the existing all-of-government desktop and laptop (DTLT) agreements, currently in the third year of a contract that could run for up to five years. “The initial contract term will align with the current AoG DTLT agreements.”

However, if the chosen thin-client provider is not already active within the DTLT agreement, this is not an entrée to those contracts, MBIE emphasises. “For the avoidance of doubt, any successful respondent that is not a AoG DTLT Supplier will only be permitted to supply thin-client computers and not any desktop or laptop computers,” the RFP says.

Core government agencies – departments and ministries – will be required to sign a memorandum of understanding under the panel agreement and give reasons for any thin-client procurement outside those terms. Other state services, such as the NZ Defence Force, Police and Crown agencies, will be “expected” to join the arrangement and other public-sector entities such as local authorities, are “encouraged” to do so.

The contract is for the hardware only. Servers, networking, systems integration and “virtual desktop or application presentation technology for use with thin client computers” are out of scope, and are the province of the Department of Internal Affairs. “While these items are considered important to an overall thin client solution, they will not come under this thin client computer RFP, but potentially under a DIA led Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offering in the future.”

Explaining the potential DaaS, the RFP says: “DIA is considering establishing a commercial arrangement with suppliers for the provision of a virtual desktop and application environment delivered as a service to agencies.

“Users will be able to access their work desktop and applications from almost any device, anywhere and agencies will have the flexibility to consume when required and reduce spend as required. Agencies will also have the flexibility to take advantage of changing technology quickly (e.g. upgrade an application within weeks) and at the same or lower TCO [total cost of ownership]. This approach enables self-service provisioning, flexibility, and pay-as-you-go billing and is complementary to the approach for cloud-based office productivity services.”

Closing date for thin-client computer proposals is January 31 next year.

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