Feds tender for cloud services

Panel to start operating in January 2015

The Federal Government on Tuesday issued a tender to establish a panel of cloud service providers as it readies to provide agencies with easier access to hosted IT infrastructure services.

The Department of Finance is establishing a whole-of-government services panel and will select preferred providers and execute head agreements in December.

A cloud services panel will start operating in January, read the tender documents. Finance will create an electronic service catalogue of cloud services – available through a portal – which will enable agencies to browse offerings.

Last month, the government asked for industry feedback on a draft head of agreement for the panel, aimed at simplifying contracts and creating and more competitive and flexible market for cloud services across agencies.

The government is seeking submission for software-as-a-service (CRM, ERP, IT service management, and productivity solutions); platform-as-a-service (app deployment and Web hosting); and infrastructure-as-a-service (compute and storage solutions.)

It is also tendering for specialist cloud services, such as deployment and transition management, cloud app design, integration and optimisation, and data conversion and cleansing.

The Coalition government highlighted the need for more flexible and cost-effective cloud services in its August 2013 Policy for E-Government and the Digital Economy paper.

The policy states the government will simplify ICT and eliminate duplication, fragmented and sub-scale activities across agencies by using shared or cloud services where minimum efficient scale hurdles are not met.

It also sets a default expectation that private and public cloud solutions will be used whenever efficient scale is not achieved at agency level. It will also transition smaller agencies with fewer users to shared or cloud services.

The cloud services panel will run until 31 March 2017 with options to extend it for four further periods of up to 12 months each, read the tender documents.

The Department of Finance said offerings must demonstrate the essential characteristics of cloud services defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

These include on-demand self-service (enabling users to provision computing services automatically without human intervention), broad network access using thick or thin clients, and resource pooling (where computing resources are dynamically assigned and reassigned based on demand).

They also include rapid elasticity (where computing resources can be scaled up or down at any time), and measured service (a metering capability that monitors, controls and reports resource usage).

Around 35 contracts worth $1.4 million have been signed under Finance’s ‘Data Centre as a Service Multi use List’, which was created in October 2012. This list enables agencies to purchase cloud and cloud-like services under $80,000 over less than 12 months.

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