O'Farrell's NSW to up the cloud stakes

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O'Farrell's NSW to up the cloud stakes

Private cloud shapes as option to end agency turf war.

The New South Wales Government has re-instated data centre reform as a flagship project and set up a working group to look into opportunities for shared IT infrastructure, iTnews can reveal.

The newly-instated NSW Government ICT Board, made up of the Director-Generals of major NSW Government agencies, and the ICT Leadership Group, made up of agency CIOs, have convened their first monthly meetings.

The first agenda item raised on the higher-level ICT Board meeting, according to iTnews sources, was a commitment to the data centre reform project.

Proposals were put forward to the ICT Leadership (CIO) Group, meanwhile, to take consolidation further than data centre real estate.

The panel of CIOs agreed to establish a working group to look into opportunities for shared ICT infrastructure such as servers, storage and network devices.

Senior stakeholders within the New South Wales Government have ambitions to build a private cloud to replace aging agency IT infrastructure, according to well-placed sources.

But reaching consensus for such initiatives among agency CIOs has in the past been fraught with difficulties.

Under the previous administration, the NSW Government struggled for four years to achieve consensus to consolidate its hundreds of older agency data centres into a small number of whole-of-Government facilities.

A circular sent by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet to agencies in February 2011 stipulated that the Government still intends to consolidate its 200-odd data centres down to just two, one of which will be based in the Sydney basin and another in the Illawarra region.

All NSW agencies will be required to utilise these facilities by 2015, and are currently prohibited from buying capacity elsewhere or upgrade existing facilities before the end of the year.

The consolidation plan has to date been held back by red tape as factions - particularly those in the larger and more powerful Health and Education portfolios - wrestled with the now-abandoned Government CIO (GCIO) office over control of infrastructure and budgets.

Already the O'Farrell Government has moved to reduce this friction under the new ICT framework released last month.

Decisions on ICT priorities are now in the hands of the ICT board upon which Director-Generals of agencies, rather than CIOs, have voting power.

Agency CIOs meet monthly for the ICT Leadership Group that feeds information into the ICT Board but have no direct influence over its decisions.

But a crucial question will be whether the Government has the in-house skills to build and manage any private cloud, or whether it will require contracts with server, storage, network or services vendors to offer a private cloud from within the Government-leased facilities.

Any plans to build a private cloud depend first on the Government’s ability to close the data centre reform deal with one of two remaining bidders, Macquarie Capital Group and Leighton Contractors.

The two bidders are each in dialogue with the Government, but no deals have been signed to date.

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