Release of Cloud Services Panel Discussion Paper

Author: 
Mundi Tomlinson

Introduction

Finance established a Whole of Government Cloud Services Panel (the Panel) in January 2015 to provide access to cloud services for Agencies. The Panel currently has 114 suppliers and over 400 Services listed across nine Categories.

Finance committed to approach the market in the fourth quarter of 2015/16 in order to refresh the Panel by providing an opportunity to add new suppliers and to expand the current scope of the Panel.

New suppliers will need to submit a Tender. Once a successful Tenderer has been appointed to the Panel, they will be able to update their services as required, with the approval of Finance.

Finance is considering whether Existing Panellists will need to submit a Tender in order to add new services under Service Models they were previously unsuccessful for. Where an Existing Panellist seeks to retire a service, that change can be handled outside of this Tender process, under the existing Panel contract management processes.

Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to seek feedback and suggestions from government and industry on the current and proposed Cloud Services Panel structure and processes.

The current structure may undergo changes following consultation, for that reason, interested suppliers and current Panellists should not rely on the statements in this blog. The final structure will be outlined in the approach to market documentation provided through AusTender when the Request for Tender is released.

Cloud Services Panel Scope

The Cloud Services Panel includes services under specific Service Models, as defined by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST):

•        Software as a Service (SaaS)

•        Platform as a Service (PaaS)

•        Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

In addition to the above service models, cloud specialist services (such as cloud integration and optimisation, etc.) can be procured under the Specialist Cloud Services (SCS) Service Model.

Services which do not meet the NIST definition of ‘cloud’ will not be included in the proposed Panel arrangements, nor will any services or products provided by existing mandatory whole of government coordinated procurement arrangements.

Cloud Services Panel Head Agreement

The current version of the Head Agreement is available for the information of new suppliers. Finance does not anticipate major changes to the Head Agreement as a part of the refresh.

 

Cloud Services Panel Head Agreement (Word)

Cloud Services Panel Head Agreement (PDF)

 

Statement of Requirements

The proposed Statement of Requirements  is available for the information of new suppliers. It may undergo changes following consultation, for that reason, new suppliers should not rely on this Statement of Requirements.

 

Statement of Requirements (Word)

Statement of Requirements (PDF)

 

Current Structure

Finance initially approached the market with nine Categories, based on feedback received through engagement with Agencies and industry. Currently Panellists may only add new services to those Catergories they were successful in, at the time of appointment to the Cloud Services Panel.

Figure 1: Current Structure of the Cloud Services Panel

 

Proposed Structure

Finance is considering removing that restriction, such that a Panellist may add a new Service (that meets the NIST Cloud definitions) to the Panel, irrespective of which Service Model/Category they were successful in.

Figure 2: Proposed Removal of Service Restrictions

 

We are also considering allowing Panellists to propose new Categories between Panel refreshes. This would allow the suppliers to add new products as they are released and allow entities access to innovatative new products in a timely manner.. Finance would add new Categories to the Panel as required.

Figure 3: Proposed Structure of the Cloud Services Panel

 

Discussion

Finance would like your feedback and comments on the following:

•        The current and proposed structure of the Cloud Services Panel.

•        The operational aspects and processes of the Cloud Services Panel.

•        What can be improved on or Finance do better.

Conclusion

Finance welcomes feedback on the issues identified under Discussion above.

Consultation is open until 5 pm (AEST) Friday 06 May 2016. Government Agencies should provide feedback via email to CloudProcurement@finance.gov.au. Industry can provide feedback via the comments on this blog or via email to CloudProcurement@finance.gov.au.

I look forward to your comments.

Thanks,

Mundi

Comments (3)

Almost none of the current providers on the Cloud Panel meet the NIST definition of cloud. I have used services from MacTel and Slice, they are managed services, not cloud. Can we have a managed services panel for the managed services providers rather than lumping them in as "cloud".

I would agree that the top level categories SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and SCS are probably creating some confusion. In reality, cloud services are defined at a much more granular level, as an example, AC3 has available five different flavors of Virtual Servers 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32GB vRAM that a client can purchase on a monthly basis. These servers come pre-loaded with vCPU and 60GB storage. This type of product decomposition flows through into storage, firewalls, load balancers, proxy, web servers etc - pure infrastructure as a service (IaaS and SaaS). (all cloud service providers should be able to provide (and prove) a service catalogue and unit pricing).
Platform as a Service is simply where a Service Provider has constructed a service offering like Identity and is offering this service on a subscription basis. AC3 does Back Up as a Service, Asset Management as a Service, Content Filtering as a Service - others provide platforms like Service Now, Microsoft Dynamics. ( again place the burden of proof on the service provider to provide (and prove) a service catalogue and subscription pricing.
Special Cloud Services - are normally dedicated infrastructure provided specifically to one client for a specific reason, for example, to avoid CPU contention, or overcome some software license constraint like low core count.
DFS needs to go deeper to:
1. Define what a cloud "as a service" set of products and services looks like at a pragmatic level. Set specific standards prescriptions - not high level.
2. Have all Service Providers prove out compliance to specific standards.
3. Re-open CSP applications so new Cloud providers can apply.

Mundi & Team

Macquarie Telecom supports the premise in the Discussion Paper for a change to the current structure of the Cloud Services Panel. The existing framework, in our view, is too restrictive and limits innovation. Ultimately this is a blocker to better value for money for the Commonwealth.

The proposed changes under consideration (including removal of service restriction barriers) would be an improvement. The reality is that a "set and forget" approach does not reflect of what happens in the sector or the evolution of technology. Agencies’ needs change and the offerings of service providers will move to meet that, along with broader industry trends. So the ability for panellist to add services in new categories or develop new categories between refreshes of the Panel is positive.

We note there is an emerging trend where a customer solution is delivered "as a service" by 2 or more providers combining together. The current Panel framework refers to a concept of "Key Service Provider", but we would raise this as a potential area for Finance to consider modifying to enable a better clarification of responsibilities (and potentially service levels etc) in this type of situation. We note that the contract could only be with one entity in this situation.

On a separate point, we note that other jurisdictions (particularly the UK) have focused a lot more on having open and current reporting on the adoption of cloud by government. While ultimately this data can be sourced from Austender, we would encourage Finance to establish a regular reporting mechanism to share information between government and industry on use of the Panel. This would be useful source to support ongoing investment and development of new services.

Macquarie Telecom looks forward to the opportunity to provide further contribution as the review progresses.

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Last updated: 27 April 2016