WA charts path to the cloud

GovNext is already having an impact on WA market, CTO says

On Andrew Cann’s first day as Western Australia’s chief technology officer, sitting within the Office of the Government CIO, his boss – GCIO Giles Nunis – said he wanted the CTO to move the whole of the WA government to the cloud.

“I kind of fell off my chair,” Cann told the CeBIT eGovernment conference in Sydney. “I got back on and thought – how would I do that?”

The WA government’s ambitious GovNext-ICT transformation program is the result.

In late 2015 the state government revealed details of GovNext, which involves the rollout of a government-wide network and a massive shift to as-a-service offerings. The plan is to shave $650 million off WA’s annual IT bill.

In January the government signed contracts with Atos, Datacom and NEC for the program, with each of the lead vendors subcontracting to provide cloud, data centre, network and telephony services.

WA has been “very, very behind the times” in terms of ICT maturity, Cann said, with government frequently tending to overbuy and underutilise.

State government agencies have been served by a patchwork of networks – with many still relying on copper.

GovNext has three key pillars: A massive consolidation of government data centres and the provision of a dedicated government cloud (GovCloud); the rollout of a unified state-wide communication network for government (GovNet); and the establishment of a GovtNext-ICT Service Broker team to assist agencies’ transition, monitor service provider performance, oversee contract management and monitor benefits realisation.

GovNext involves decommissioning 60 data centres and some 200 server rooms currently in use by government organisations. Under the program, agencies will rely on three data centres operated by third parties (NextDC, Pier DC and Metronode).

Prior to co-location, agencies are expected to go through a process of application rationalisation and reduce their virtual footprint in an effort to minimise their physical footprint, Cann said.

“We don’t want agencies to co-locate first – we want them to do that last after they’ve got rid of all the garbage,” the CTO said. “If organisations are 90 per cent virtualized, which they tell me they are, then why can’t those virtual machines go straight into the cloud.”

The program will involve a massive shift away from capital expenditure by government.

“We want to go from capex to opex ‘as a service’ consumption model – we don’t want to own any IT infrastructure at all is the ultimate goal,” Cann said.

The structure of GovNext is designed so that the three key service providers will compete against each other. Each vendor has a service catalogue, and the catalogues are aligned with services described in the same way. The idea is to make it easy for agencies to compare prices; vendors can also see each other’s prices, which will help further depress prices, Cann said.

The program is already having an impact on the WA market, the CTO said. Telcos have been approaching agencies and offering discounts in an effort to lock them into contracts before the shift to GovNext becomes mandatory. In one case a telco offered an agency a discount of 50 per cent across a 150-site WAN.

Underpinning GovNext is the government’s Digital WA ICT strategy, which was launched last year.

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