The Department of Finance and Deregulation will focus on "value for money" propositions when it releases the tender for data centres in the third quarter of this year, even if suppliers propose the use of greenfield sites.
A spokesperson for the Australian Government Information Management Office — the ICT arm of the Department of Finance and Deregulation — told Computerworld Australia that all tenders would have to provide a "strong case to deliver value for money" to the Federal Government.
"One of the requirements on the interim panel was that they had to have their facilities in due by 30 June 2010 so they could meet the requirements of agencies before the full data centre panel was up and running," the spokesperson said. However, there will be no strict time limitations on when final tenders must be ready.
The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner MP, announced a new data centre strategy that will govern the procurement and leasing of data centre requirements for all Federal Government departments over the next 15 years. The strategy is a response to the Gershon Review and will focus on aggregating demand for data centre services from departments.
Tanner said that the Federal Government will look to institute a new data centre panel and begin an initial approach to market in the third quarter of this year via the AusTender website. Tendered data centres must offer a minimum of 500 square metres of floorspace and a lease of 10 years, with opportunities to extend the lease for another five years. Data centres can be located inside or outside the Australian Capital Territory.
According to the spokesperson, the data centre panel will consider three types of suppliers: fully operational facilities, facilities awaiting confirmation to order heavy duty equipment with long lead times, and data centre suppliers with greenfield sites. Provided the latter group can provide value for money and operational facilities within a reasonable time frame, they will be considered by the panel.
"If you own a site and have planning permission, the timeframe for occupation might be 18 months to three years. It might be faster in some circumstances. If you don't have planning permissions, you have difficulties in the time it takes to get up there."
The spokesperson said the panel will consider "what sort of arrangements they have, but being conscious that they are not ready yet. There'll be less obvious value for money in the greenfield suppliers”.
The first data centre suppliers are expected to be approved roughly three months from the release of tender.
The interim data centre panel — comprising Polaris Data Centres, Canberra Data Centres, Fujitsu, Global Switch Property and Harbour MSP — will continue to exist until the end of the year, but will no longer accept approaches from agencies. Since its inception in September last year, the panel has seen interest from 10 Federal Government departments inside and outside of the ACT, including Centrelink.
"Agencies that needed to do something before the full strategy was in place have gone to the interim panel and made those arrangements. The arrangements have taken into account those agencies that have immediate requirements."
Tanner said the transition between interim and final data centre panels is intended to be a "seamless changeover”.