Opinion: How to opt out of the Fed's data centre strategy

 

When is a mandate not a mandate?

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner's speech at yesterday's CeBIT data centre conference was promoted as the launch of the Federal Government's whole-of-Government data centre strategy.

But tied up with handling the Federal Budget, Tanner wasn't able to reveal a great deal more detail than iTnews readers would already know - yes, the Feds are consolidating data centres, no, it won't be one big megacentre, and the interim panel is.... still interim.

But there were some aspects of the announcement worth some analysis. What was "new" about the strategy was in fact that the Federal Government doesn't just want a centralised data centre strategy as an option for agencies, but that it is mandating that agencies migrate to using services procured under this arrangement.

The key question becomes - at what point in time does migration to such services become mandated?

AGIMO - the Australian Government Information Management Office - has done its homework on this, and won't set something as arbitrary as a cutover date for all applications - at least, not in the short term.

"Most agencies are on cycles of hardware refresh over several years at a time," noted a spokesman for the Minister. "You don't just stop what you're doing and switch over."

The solution for AGIMO is to come up with several "trigger points" - be it asset refresh cycles, the end of an outsourcing contract, the end of life for an existing data centre or a "significant expansion" of data centre capacity.

Some of these, such as the end of an outsourcing deal, are easy to define. But how much new hardware represents a "a significant" refresh? What if you just add some blades to your chassis, or spin up a bunch of virtual machines on your existing kit? Does that constitute a refresh?

Finance doesn't have any hard and fast metrics.

"We take a pretty reasonable approach," the spokesman told iTnews. "I don't anticipate any difficulty working with agencies at all."

Indeed, most Government stakeholders at the CeBIT data centre summit in Sydney were broadly supportive of consolidation efforts.

"We're all for it," said Michael Curran, a technical specialist for Austrade. "I'm looking forward to not having to manage a data centre!"

The Department of Human Services - which via the merger of Centrelink, Medicare and several other agencies will become an IT superpower within the Federal Government, was also enthusiastic.

"We welcome the strategy and look forward to working with AGIMO," said Yusef Mansuri, an enterprise architect working for the department.

But back to the more telling question - what if an agency liked its current data centre arrangements and wasn't keen on the panel of suppliers?

The Finance spokesman told me the department doesn't anticipate such a problem, but they must have considered it as some stage - because agencies can, if they wish, opt out.

Yes, that's right. Provide Tanner with some good enough reasons, and you can stay exactly where you are. Finance has even provided a guide on how to do it.

Those that wish to opt-out are asked to "prepare a short business case based on a genuine business need." The agencies would have to have either economies of scale to justify non-participation, or be able to prove, for example, that participation would have adverse implications for national security or privacy. Agencies might also opt out purely by proving that the cost of migration ("compliance costs") would be too hefty.

Without entering into these details, Tanner said that all agencies should theoretically jump aboard the consolidation wagon within the next 15 years.

"We are mindful that we need to minimise our impact on [an agency's] autonomy and choice while aggregating their data centre needs," he said.

"The willingness of agencies to work collaboratively with us shouldn't be underestimated."

What happened in the interim?

The Government claims that ten Federal agencies are already looking to take up space within the five data centres launched as an interim panel for the strategy (Global Switch, Polaris, Canberra Data Centre, HarbourMSP and Fujitsu).

But of these ten opportunities at "various levels of engagement", iTnews can confirm that only one of the five data centres has enjoyed any additional Government work to date - Canberra Data Centre, which took on $4.9 million of work from the Department of Human Services.

And the cloud?

Tanner's speech also did little to instill confidence in those that argue the Federal Government should be a big user - if not a provider - of cloud computing services.

A narrowly defined panel of data centre providers would prevent Federal agencies from consuming infrastructure-as-a-service from public cloud computes.

Tanner told the audience he was wary of locking agencies into a technlogy for an extended period of time. But he played down the near-term impact of cloud computing.

"To a degree yes, cloud computing is one of the issues in play," Tanner said. "But that is a story in progress generally around the world - and as is always the case - there is an early wave of hype before broad adoption - distinguishing between the two can be challenging.

"We will be proceeding with some caution - concrete decisions have to be made by agencies through a coordinated process. [Cloud computing] is clearly on the horizon - it's got more substance to it than a fad. But we have to live in the here and now and project forward five years - and think about solutions that will be working now."


Opinion: How to opt out of the Fed's data centre strategy
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  21%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1452

Vote