The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will quickly establish a multi-use list (MUL) of Data Centre as a Service (DCaaS) providers with no assurances that any agency will use it, an industry briefing in Canberra heard yesterday.
AGIMO’s first assistant secretary for agency services John Sheridan told a packed industry audience of some 100 vendors that he would wind up the panel if there were no takers for its services.
Though AGIMO had consulted widely with agencies about their requirements, Sheridan was unable to indicate what the minimum demand or the kinds of services likely to be used by agencies over the MUL's anticipated two-year term.
Sheridan said a survey of 50 smaller agencies from September last year showed at least 19 were interested in disaster recovery services and hosting support.
But he stopped short of suggesting this interest would translate into demand for cloud or cloud-like services.
Sheridan argued the panel was an innovative way to improve how smaller agencies could engage with vendors that offered new technology that they would usually not be aware of.
It also “lowered the hurdle” for suppliers of these services to bid for government work. They would need only to establish that they were genuine companies with two references attesting to their capabilities in cloud and cloud-like services.
To lower the risk for the Government, all deals had to be less than $80,000 and could not be extended beyond a year.
As-a-service suppliers of infrastructure, disaster recovery, storage, platform and software would be invited to indicate attributes of their respective services, such as flexibility to scale up and down.
Agencies would then examine what was on offer, seek up to three quotes from suppliers and sign a contract drawing on the non-negotiable head of agreement.
Sheridan expected applications for inclusion to on the MUL to be announced by the end of June. Vendors would be invited to respond by the end of August and the MUL would be in place by October 2012.
Sheridan also lowered the barriers to entry for joining. In the AGIMO blog, Sheridan set the joining fee at “no more than” $250 on 2nd of April. At the briefing he referred to the same likely fee at “$200 or less than that”.
Use of the list will be not mandatory and agencies can obtain the same cloud and cloud-like services at this price ceiling already, one industry attendee who declined to be named, told iTnews.
Furthermore, AGIMO was under-estimating the complexities of how service level agreements could fit within its proposed matrix, he said.
Other members said AGIMO's approach was worth pursuing and said they saw advantages in the open, optional approach to cloud service procurement.
Responding to a question on whether the simplified approach could be used for other ICT services in future, Sheridan agreed this was a likely option. However agency take-up of the MUL could influence this.
“I don’t want to put in place an enduring arrangement that no one uses,” he said. “If it turns out that this does not work, and people aren’t getting business then we will be able to wrap it up and say we tried to do something different, but it didn’t work so will go back to other ways to do things,” he said.
“I hope that doesn’t happen. But there’s always the possibility.”
Edited on 3 May, 11am: This story originally referred to the MUL as a panel. This was inaccurate; the story has been edited accordingly.
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