The Department of Finance has opened its whole-of-government cloud services panel to new providers interested in joining the scheme.
The panel allows agencies to buy from a set catalogue of as-a-service products without going through a full approach to market.
It was opened in January 2015 to replace the data centre-as-a-service scheme, which was criticised for placing too many limitations on procurement.
In its latest refresh, Finance has sought to loosen these parameters yet again, announcing that it will do away with rigid categories governing the cloud services included in the panel, and allow members to request the addition of new categories of service.
Finance’s John Sheridan also revealed that the approval timeframe for new services will be reduced to ten business days to “provide a greater flexibility and be more responsive to both agencies and panellists”.
The current panel head agreement is boxed into nine service categories, representing a barrier to services that fall outside these limits. The new deal, according to tender documents, might maintain some of these category labels for ease of administration, but will no longer prohibit any services from being added to the scheme.
The 49 providers already on the cloud services panel will not have to retender to retain their spot, while new bidders have been told they can submit a maximum of three services in this first stage of the process, and will be able to pitch additional services once they are successful.
The only criteria Finance will place on the new deal is a demand that all services meet the basic NIST definition of cloud computing - including on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service - and represent value for money as determined by Finance officials.
Panellists will need to report back to Finance on any sales they have conducted through the cloud scheme, so the agency can keep track of agency buying patterns. This data will be shared with both the suppliers and customers of the panel.
Buying through the cloud services panel is not mandatory for Commonwealth agencies.