The government has issued a cloud-based all-of-government request for proposal that may eventually involve virtual desktops with thin-client hardware or bring your own devices.
The RFP provides hints of the configuration that the Department of Internal Affairs (the lead agency for this and other government ICT projects) sees as hosting office productivity applications.
“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,” the RFP says.
“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.”
This approach would also mean “agencies will have the flexibility to take advantage of changing technology quickly 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 complimentary [sic] to the approach for cloud-based office productivity services,” DIA says.
“The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) with DIA as a Centre of Excellence has [already] established contractual arrangements for the provision of desktop and laptop devices,” says the RFP. “It is also currently considering establishment of contractual arrangement for other end-user devices, such as ‘tablets’ and ‘thin client’ devices.”
DIA expects a single provider of a core set of office productivity services will be appointed, “although additional providers of supplementary or interoperable unbundled services may also be selected,” says the RFP. This gives perhaps some hope for a slot in the arrangement for providers of open-source office applications, who have often felt unjustifiably neglected in the face of Microsoft dominance.
The document also shows the balancing act government will have to perform against existing services and agreements in the cloud and office-productivity arenas.
The RFP expresses a firm preference for solutions that incorporate the current all-of-government infrastructure-as-a-service setup, or at least can be hosted by the same datacentres. “There would be certain accessibility and performance advantages for government” of such co-hosting, says the RFP.
The all-of-government IaaS is hosted by Revera, Datacom and IBM.
“Services hosted on other infrastructure will be considered where they meet or exceed the same security and availability criteria that apply to IaaS or otherwise meet the requirements in the NZISM [government’s Information Security Manual] relevant to handling information at the level of classification for which a service is designed or certified and have acceptable availability levels; and would be cost-effective for government,” the RFP says.
The RFP also anticipates the situation where one or more of the IaaS providers is putting up a bid of its own and is also approached by an independent bidder wishing to use it as a host or collaborate with it in some other way. In that case the IaaS provider must disclose to the other bidder that it will be making its own bid.
In the event that Microsoft – the current leading provider of office productivity applications to government agencies – is a party to the winning bid, the terms will have to be rationalised with the existing G2012 agreement, under which Microsoft provides licences to government agencies for use of its services.
“DIA expects that the existing Microsoft software used by agencies will co-exist with any cloud-based office productivity services in the short term,” the RFP says. “The G2012 Framework Agreement allows agencies to have different profiles of users for each agency each with a different set of products used.”
A shortlist of preferred suppliers will be notified early next year, but final notification of successful provider(s) will not be made until July 2013.