Health Ministry weighs server outsourcing

An initial study will concentrate on the three largest sites, two in Wellington and one in Auckland

The Ministry of Health is evaluating the outsourced management of its infrastructure, particularly its population of servers now spread across 17 regional sites.

These and all other infrastructure elements are currently managed internally.

An initial study will concentrate on the three largest sites, two in Wellington and one in Auckland. The ministry is asking for proposals from consultants to work with ministry staff in documenting resources at these centres and in evaluating options for future server hosting and infrastructure management.

The ministry recognises “that the capacity of [current] services is limited,” in terms of machine power, physical space and the demand for staff, but one of the purposes of the study is to identify more precisely where the most significant constraints are, says ITS infrastructure manager Nic Mair.

In general terms, the pressure comes both from growth in volume of existing work and in new projects that the ministry frequently conceives, he says. In addition, there is the perennial question of whether the ministry staff are the best to do the job, or whether it is better handed over to

specialists, he says.

The chief objective is to “mitigate the risks to service delivery” that the study will identify, says a request for proposal.

Following the scoping of possible solutions, the consultancy will draw up requests for information and/or requests for proposal for provision of services.

A three-month timeline has been set out for the study. “We expect a consolidated view [of the existing situation] within a month and we should be able to work through the options quickly after that,” Mair says.

The decision may be that with some adjustment, the in-house situation will continue, “or we might decide to outsource the lot”. There are likely to be lessons that can be applied to the other 14 regional centres, he says.

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