Government ICT Update: Common Capabilities update and the real news

ict-landscape-landingThe DIA released an update this week on where Common Capabilities are at. We are near the end of the first quarter for the year and after a presentation to the Government sector last December there seems to be little progress and a lot of change going on.

DIA reports that “After extensive planning and consultation late last year, a new ICT common capability programme is gathering pace, led by the Department of Internal Affairs.”

Most of that work appears to be in the area of software licensing, with VMWare, Oracle, Citrix, and Microsoft licenses being discussed and SAP, SAS, Adobe, IBM, and HP to follow. There are no outcomes listed in relation to those discussion with what appears to be an intention to negotiate pricing at the forefront.

Then we see the DIA lauding the fact that the Waikato DHB are the first to utilise the Common Web Platform with a host of benefits that a Public Relations consultant would be proud of.

In the positive we see that RealMe, the older beast of Identity Management, has snagged a working relationship with the BNZ. The uptake in general is slow, with 10,000 accounts only subscribed since July last year. Still, it’s moving on.

Outside of the Common Capabilities, but listed anyway, is the Txt for SPAM service that allows you to forward unwanted Txt messages, SPAM, to the DIA.

As is the formation of an “Government Agile Connect Group”. Given the number of projects that still appear to be in disarray, including the Joint Border Management System as alleged by David Shearer today, one has to wonder why it is that if we can’t get the basics right we’d rush at a new, faster, method for Government projects.

Other than that, the news is thin. Beta testing continues on a central government website and the results of an Open Data survey have been published.

Missing is updates on a range of Common Capabilities, which is disappointing, but not unexpected.

Desktop as a Service, one of the first Common Capabilities, that makes sense at least for the next three years, is gaining some serious traction through Government circles with a high-degree of interest. Agencies are starting to investigate and are being forced to look at their own end-user strategy as a result. The service has a number of providers and adds values around the edge of the desktop that are likely to be very beneficial. So two questions; why aren’t we seeing the good news on this service published and how is Government going getting rid of XP, which is now a serious security risk?

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)is not mentioned, which is interesting. A little bird tells me that the construct is being examined (about time). We know that more and more agencies are taking aspects of the service up, we also know that there are problems in paradise.

According to one of my sources one central government agency is backing out of IaaS at least in part, working with Amazon to move workloads into their Cloud based service. Very hard to argue with given the cost differential.

Watch that space this year, its will end up in a shake up for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, word on the street is that Revera has a queue a mile long of customers joining the hosted services area. People don’t like queues and that may result in some business being moved to the other two providers, Datacom and IBM.

On that rumor of last year, that IBM may be exiting the IaaS conglomerate, that’s not true. I have it directly from a very senior IBM’r that they are here to stay and that they are going to push it hard. Like I’ve said before, they make a good proposition. They’ve got data centres, no queue, and when you look at them globally they have turned the corner to Cloud, to the tune of billions of dollars of investment. More, they have a fast, active, product life cycle. Watch for the bounce back.

Secondly, the multinationals are definitely turning their eye to New Zealand. We know that Amazon has been heavily recruiting in New Zealand and their roadshows are reaching an almost religious fervor with hundreds of attendees at their presentations. One of the worst kept secrets is that another multinational is establishing a point of presence in New Zealand later this year to deliver Cloud services, and they look damn good.

All of that bodes well for Government agencies looking to move their data centres and ICT services into the Cloud. The market is starting to eat the IaaS Common Capabilities construct. It’s only a matter of time before those benefits are unlocked.

We still haven’t seen anything from the Office Productivity work, Microsoft 365 or Google Apps by any other name, despite the fact they were to deliver a service by June 2013. It’s all gone very quiet.

On the Identity Management front, the service that allows agencies to securely connect to multiple Common Capabilities and Cloud services, it’s likely to fall over and provide advice only. Widely released papers show that the issue is complex and difficult. Where RealMe would likely have been the answer to that question, my sources tell me it won’t do what they need, driving that work in a different direction.

Also in the public arena, well almost, is the ICT assurance work. A raft of paperwork is circulating about this, and I’ll update you once that becomes publicly consumable.

Lastly, sources tell me that the DIA ICT group has been encouraged (instructed?) to start using Common Capabilities, with a focus on IaaS, and that the work is … proving challenging. The long time complaint has been that DIA instructs every other agency to consume those services, but in-house don’t consume themselves. That’s changing apparently. Challenging, because as we know, IaaS is a tiny part of the overall ICT puzzle and does not fit every agency’s ICT profile, including, no doubt, DIA.

We still don’t know what the election policies of various parties will do to the Common Capabilities, that on the face of it, should provide better service and cost reduction. There is no doubt that a continued focus on how Government spends money on ICT is needed, necessary, and logical. The question remains, can the GCIO be brave enough to cut away the dross and focus on the services that will reap rewards and can they be agile enough to do that quickly?

But those policies are another blog.



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