AGIMO progresses data centre strategy

Eyes Green centres in pursuit of savings costs

The Australian Government’s lead procurement agency to soon announce preferred vendors for a number of tenders forming part of the government’s 15-year data centre strategy in an attempt to progress from interim arrangements.

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is expected to this week finalise evaluation of tenders for the data centre services migration panel, one of five activities currently being undertaken as part of the strategy.

The panel will provide services to help early adopting agencies begin to move their individual data centre arrangements to a shared arrangement in one of the final data centres.

Services outlined in the tender include procurement, requirements definition, design, project management and logistics, installation, commissioning new infrastructure, decommissioning vacated data centres, and data centre metrics.

An accompanying tender, the final data centre facilities panel, has also progressed with most vendors signed up. AGIMO first secretary and acting Australian Government CIO, John Sheridan, said the agency was already in negotiations to move one department under the arrangement.

He said progress with the tenders, one year on from the strategy’s initial announcement, signified the government’s readiness to move on from the interim panel first established in 2009.

“The [interim] arrangement that was in place though, is an arrangement for a point in time,” Sheridan told attendees of a Gartner data centre summit in Sydney this week. “We’re now in the position to bring the full strategy into play and our full normal panel arrangements.

“What we’ve done in setting up the panels is provide an ability to negotiate with vendors under a set series of conditions where we have already agreed a whole range of the characteristics of the deal - contracts, price maximum agreements, a range of other technical agreements as part of this work.”

Sheridan said the interim panel had already yielded significant successes since formation, with six vendors leasing 2500 square metres of data centre space to nine government agencies. The panel had reduced overall lease costs for the departments involved by 30 per cent, avoiding $7 million in costs while large to medium agency services had doubled server utilisation from 30 to 60 per cent.

“We wouldn’t take all the credit for this by any means but we’re seeing a number of things,” Sheridan said. “We’re seeing increasing trends toward virtualisation. We’re seeing an understanding within the industry and government to get more out of our arrangements. We know that if that continues, the sort of footprint we needed at the outset of this work will be reduced when it’s completed.”

The final arrangements are expected to avoid further costs of up to $1 billion over 15 years, including $35 million a year in electricity costs through more efficient data centres. The 105 agencies currently subject to the Financial and Management Accountability Act were reported to have spent $807 million a year on data centres at the launch of the strategy.

A final Cloud strategy is also expected to be released soon pending approval from government. It follows a discussion paper released in January by AGIMO which outlined aims to move unclassified material to a public Cloud environment by the end of the decade. The strategy is expected to sit alongside data centre migrations, but may overlap with certain arrangements.

AGIMO eyes Green data

Sheridan also outlined plans to move to a power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.5 over time in an effort to improve data centre efficiencies and reduce costs.

The $35 million cost savings outlined would more than likely come from the $100 million a year spent on facility electricals, while another $70 million is currently spent on the ICT infrastructure of existing data centres.

Government data centre PUE ratings averaged 2.5, according to Sheridan, with smaller agencies unable to properly gauge their environmental efficiency given a rating of 3.

“We don’t want to burden the small agencies by saying ‘go away and waste a whole bunch of time measuring PUE and then converting to something else, when you know when you move to a new arrangement you’ll have a better arrangement then that’,” Sheridan said.

“The target in industry is well under 1.5, and we want to help people move towards those targets.”

A focus on environmental efficiency would also look to avoid approximately 40,000 tones of carbon dioxide emissions under current data centre practices across government.

In considering a final data centre panel, Sheridan said some consideration was being given to the location of the sites and their average temperature, but that other aspects such as a access to communications and power largely took precedence.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags governmentdata centresgreen ITagimoAustralian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)Gartner Data Centre Conference 2011john sherdian

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