Tanner rules out super datacentre, sole supplier

Minister for Finance and Deregulation Lindsay Tanner tells ACS conference industry consultation will assist datacentre strategy development

The Federal Government has ruled out building a super datacentre and moving to a sole supplier as part of the Gershon review changes.

Speaking at the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Canberra branch conference, the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, also said a whole of Government ICT sustainability plan is being developed in conjunction with the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

“We intend to develop standards that will be adopted as mandatory and also whole of Government energy usage targets,” Tanner said. “It is important we lead by example in this area.”

The Minister pointed to Gershon’s findings that the Government could be forced to spend in the order of $1 billion extra on datacentres over a period of 15 years without a coordinated strategy.

“It is important to be clear about what the Government’s intentions are in this area. At the moment, we have over 40 datacentres around the country, many of them in Canberra. Outside with defence I am not allowed to talk about, of course. But that is a pretty extraordinary number,” he said.

“This is not about buying or building datacentres, rather it is about developing a coherent strategy that informs how agencies pursue their datacentre needs over a period of time, how they are integrated into an overall approach that maximises the value for money we achieve, and amongst other things minimises energy use.”

An industry consultation process has been implemented to help develop the strategy and to date more than 50 organisations have submitted applications to the Minister.

“This direct consultation from the industry will form an important part in shaping the strategy. I’m sure you are all aware we are a very heavy user of datacentre buildings and most of them are located in the ACT,” he said. “The future scope of this datacentre strategy does present some significant challenges. But I want to emphasise that we have no intention of creating one single giant datacentre or a single deal with one supplier for all our datacentre needs.

“We have no intention of replacing extreme decentralisation with extreme centralisation. Agency flexibility, autonomy and genuine competition among suppliers are important objectives. We intend to incorporate these features into an overall framework that minimises the cost, minimises energy use and maximises utilisation of scarce resources.”

During his speech to the ACS conference, Tanner also claimed their would be a commensurate increase in the number of directly employed ICT staff in Government ranks as contractors are cut as part of the Gershon process.

He also acknowledged the global financial downturn would place stress on ICT spending in the Federal Government Budget currently being developed, but said it would rebound in 5 to 10 years.