Industry questions NSW data centre plans

 

Outsourcer calls for behavioural change in Government.

CSC's chief technology officer Bob Hayward yesterday called for more industry involvement in public sector projects, criticising the NSW Government for habitually looking first to its in-house team.

Hayward spoke at an Australian Information Industry Association luncheon that was also attended by Industry and Investment NSW and Premier Kristina Keneally.

Association members welcomed Keneally's announcement of a new State Government procurement policy slated for release in February 2011.

But Hayward said the Government needed to make "behavioural changes" in addition to those contractual changes, to promote industry investment in the state.

"There is still a habit, if you will, in public sector Australia that they will try and do things themselves before they turn to industry to help them do it," he explained.

"More often than not, I find the people we're competing with are other people within Government offering those services. I don't really understand why that's the case."

Hayward criticised NSW Labor's plan to build two new data centres in Sydney and the Illawarra region to serve its largest agencies.

Five data centre suppliers were invited to bid for the project: Global Switch Property, Gresham Rabo Management, Leighton Contractors, Macquarie Capital Group and the Plenary Group Unit Trust.

"I don't understand why the NSW Government is now out to tender, talking about running and operating two data centres," Hayward said.

"I'm in the IT services business and I wonder why I'm running data centres."

The data centre project was also criticised by Shadow Minister for Financial Management Greg Pearce, who addressed AIIA members at CSC's Macquarie Park facilities early last month.

Pearce said it was "a great pity" that the Government had not seriously considered the cloud computing model instead of operating its own data centres.

He said a Coalition State Government would focus more heavily on outsourcing and consider scrapping Labor's data centre plans if contracts were not signed before the election.

Yesterday's luncheon attendees speculated that the public sector may be wary of the cloud computing model due to unresolved data sovereignty and security concerns.

Hayward acknowledged that data sovereignty was an "intractable issue", and one to be dealt with on a Federal level.

He did not expect international data sovereignty discussions to bear fruit for some time, and suggested that organisations overcome their concerns with "technical means" like hosting more sensitive parts of their data locally, while other transactions took place in the cloud.

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