Staff safe in Ministry of Health telehousing move

Unique skills of staff highly valued, says the ministry

The Ministry of Health does not expect any ICT redundancies to flow from its plan for a telehousing arrangement for equipment currently held in its three major datacentres.

“Whilst the ministry cannot foresee or prejudge the nature of the responses to [the current Request for Proposal on telehousing], it is anticipated that the ministry is very likely to retain all current staff,” says Alan Hesketh, Deputy Director-General of the ministry’s information directorate.

“With multiple projects seeking deployment into production over the next period, the unique skills of our staff are naturally highly valued,” Hesketh says.

The NDSP involves the consolidation, rationalisation and enhancement of a wide range of information systems which the ministry acknowledges are at present fragmented. Difficulty in managing the equipment and applications poses a risk to continuity of service, according to the RFP, issued earlier this month.

Accordingly, the ministry wants to “telehouse” the equipment at the three datacentres (two in Wellington and one in Auckland) to assist the rationalisation and give it room to expand. It is looking to do this by August this year at the latest.

“There has been considerable growth of infrastructure platforms over a number of years and with the incorporation of historically separate entities into the environments, the operational architecture has been somewhat fragmented,” says the RFP.

“Various issues and challenges have been identified which present a potential risk to service capability and performance, including inadequate room for expansion at existing sites in terms of physical space and environmental considerations.”

The ministry plans to relocate existing equipment to initially offer an unchanged service, while in parallel it plans enhancements for subsequent implementation at the remote site.

The equipment is of varying ages and at different stages of depreciation, Hesketh says. He leaves open the possibility that the best plan for some of it might be to discard it altogether, rather than go to the expense of a physical move to the successful provider’s site.

“Respondents are required to prepare an implementation plan for relocation,” he says. “The ministry is in no doubt that respondents will give due consideration to these parameters when formulating their plans.”

The centres operate at full capacity and, the ministry says, without significant investment could not provide an appropriate environment able to support future services.

The RFP also calls for transition services to support the migration of equipment from ministry premises to the datacentres of the successful respondent. As part of this process the three datacentres will be consolidated to one primary centre with a remote secondary site as part of the business continuity arrangements.

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