Services Australia spends $50m on IBM Power hardware upgrade

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Services Australia spends $50m on IBM Power hardware upgrade

Servers underpin private cloud.

Services Australia will upgrade the Power Systems servers underpinning its OpenStack private cloud under a new $49.9 million contract with IBM.

The three-year “hardware and software services” deal was revealed last week, five years after its last major contract with IBM for Power servers.

Services Australia told iTnews the contract covers “IBM Power midrange server hardware” that will be used "to upgrade an existing server fleet to the latest technology release, and replaces hardware previously purchased" in 2017.

Services Australia last purchased Power servers as its former self, the Department of Human Services, through a 2017 contract with IBM worth $32.6 million.

The hardware was used to stand up a Power Systems-based private cloud, which also uses x86 hardware.

Services Australia first disclosed the existence of the private cloud in March 2018, but it wasn’t discussed in any real detail until last September.

It was described by a former cloud engineer as a “federated Kubernetes platform, built on Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat OpenStack platform”, providing teams with the tools to quickly build scalable apps.

Services Australia initially went down the path of private cloud largely due to concerns over data protection, according to former head of enterprise architecture and now chief data officer Garrett McDonald.

Part of the country’s immunisation register was one of the systems shifted to a containerised platform running on the private cloud in preparation for last year's Covid vaccination drive.

More broadly, IBM’s $480.7 million mainframe support arrangement with the agency is currently slated to expire at the end of June 2023.

In March, Services Australia handed IBM $28.5 million to upgrade the storage infrastructure in its mainframe environment, suggesting the umbrella support arrangement will be extended.

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