Blue sky thinking comes from all manner of places. The latest technology solutions and services we have developed for the WA Government, which were drawn from a variety of sources including the cloud, is leading to a multi-million-dollar payoff for the Government - in the coming year alone.
Consider one of the challenges in the WA GovNext-ICT program: to modernise on-site storage across Government and simultaneously reduce IT expenditure – all the while, providing options for Government departments on how they store data and how much they pay.
It’s never as simple as saying you can get everything you need in the cloud for a fraction of what you now pay.
The task for our data storage specialists was to build a very clear picture of exactly what cloud will (or won’t) solve and how to move relevant services to the new delivery model. This means taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, and working out how to get there in achievable steps.
A managed service provider will help develop models of self-sustaining transformation. That way, you can chip away at a problem until you deliver enough savings to fund further innovation.
Instead of having to find $200 million to fund the new project, you can make a series of smaller investments that will quickly deliver cost savings. Then you can put these savings to work by funding other projects that improve productivity or enable innovations.
Examples of these smaller projects include switching the backup process from a tape that has to be physically mailed to offsite storage – which runs the risk of being damaged or lost – to a network using an app that both keeps it onsite for a given period of time and copies it offsite.
Or you could move your virtualisation environment to an open-source cloud platform, removing the licensing fees.
In the end, private sector learnings in recent years about storage models – which combine on-site, virtual and cloud storage – provided much of the answer.
This, mixed with pay-as-you go solutions, leveraged in part by the private sector and also by some government agencies, provided the full picture – the blueprint in the blue sky thinking.
At its conclusion it has led to the resolve to move to this new, transformed method of storage, enabling the innovative WA Government to make continuous improvements without being hamstrung by existing investments.
The change, initiated by the WA Government with NEC Australia as one of three service providers, also marks the beginning of an exciting new digital era for the public sector in the West.
In doing so, WA is at the peak of a wave of government ICT organisations gradually moving from on-premise solutions to hybrid or full cloud-based solutions, as traditional models of technology investment are becoming outdated.
Under the new arrangement, the current 60 plus government data centres and server rooms will be consolidated; a whole of government data and communications network will be rolled out to connect department and agencies; and government bodies will increasingly use public and private cloud services.
The contract will see NEC implement a cloud brokerage service that will enable government agencies to consume infrastructure (IaaS) and platforms (PaaS) under a utility model. The brokerage model will allow agencies to access the best pricing solutions and standardised deals created exclusively for government.
Our analysis suggests the WA Government will realise up to 40 per cent cost savings through reduced licensing fees, infrastructure costs and improved efficiency.
The partnership will help reduce costs in building management, insurance, and hardware maintenance. As a result, improved physical and data security, and more resilient infrastructure to support disaster recovery, will deliver better business continuity and risk mitigation.
Overall, the aim of the program is to simplify technology, improve inter-agency network connectivity and interaction, and provide the foundation for transparent and efficient digital government.
It will also enable a cost-effective rollout of Digital WA, a strategy that aims to have 70 percent of transactions with government online by 2020.
I believe the GovNext-ICT contract will set an important precedent within the Australia public sector environment. Gone are the days of government agencies and businesses alike investing in expensive ICT hardware, and moving to a pay-as-you-go model for divisions and agencies.
The cloud has proven it is possible to have secure, reliable access to world-class technology, saving time, saving money and improving service delivery to all citizens. The change also marks an expansion for NEC, which already has a strong footprint within government across Australia, including WA.
In making the move, the WA Government is delivering a blueprint for all levels of government – who are at various stages of transformation – nationally.