Speaking at the CeBIT conference in Sydney this morning, Steward threw cold water on the prospect of consolidating all of the Federal Government's data centre needs in Canberra.
"It is not a predisposed position from the Government that it will build its own data centre facility, that there will only be one or that it will only be in one location," Steward said. "We are looking at a variety of environments."
Steward said a centralised approach might not deliver the Government the redundancy agencies require.
A centralised approach to data centres, she said, is unlikely to meet the needs of the Government's biggest consumers of data, the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink - both of whom have facilities spread around the nation.
Steward also said she does not expect all agencies to require the same level of service from their data centre.
"There are different tolerance levels for service provision across agencies," she said. "Most want support 24x7, but within an acceptable cost envelope. We don't expect Tier 4 to be our general need. We have a range of need from tiers one through to four.
"What we will want to do is to ensure we can apply the flexibility to expand and contract our needs, but also look more at the processes we have in place - examining the data needs, how much data has to be always available, how much of our data we archive, response times that are critical, and also what business continuity implications apply."
Steward said the meetings the Government held with the ICT industry in March and April to discuss its future data centre needs were "very well received", so much so the Government had to book extra meetings.
"We've had very good engagement with industry," Steward said, "and it has helped validate our own thinking."
Steward's staff have visited data centres around the nation to become more familiar with design models for new data centres, layouts of data centres and new methods of reducing power consumption.