by Jennifer O'Brien

Why GovDC believes it can host every NSW council and school

May 09, 2018
Digital TransformationGovernmentGovernment IT

GovDC is on a mission to become “the preferred data centre provider” to both local councils and educational institutions – and that’s just part of its gameplan.

Its newest director, Vladas Leonas – a former CIO and industry veteran – tells CIO Australia how GovDC was born out of the need for the NSW government to use its scale to assist public sector bodies to deliver better services to NSW citizens.

As a result, from 2012 to 2017, GovDC oversaw the transition of NSW agencies into two co-location facilities in Silverwater and Wollongong, which have replaced 130 government data centres across the state.

Essentially, the NSW Government has adopted a new approach to the use of ICT. And in that vein, the government data centres are purpose-built, modern, reliable, energy efficient and secure, and support the new approach to buying and using ICT services ‘on-tap’, Leonas claimed.

This allows large and small agencies to access additional data centre resources without major capital expenditure. These data centres operate around-the-clock and provide a level of reliability that many agencies could not previously afford, he said.

Leonas said GovDC has already achieved some significant milestones. Recently, it secured a 4.5-star NABERS rating and continues to create a digital community of various service providers – and Leonas wants to get that message out to local councils and educational facilities, in particular.

In 2015, it launched the GovDC CloudConnect, along with the GovDC Marketplace the following year.

For example, the GovDC marketplace – which is open to any Australian public body or not-for-profit organisation – is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for agencies to enquire and source services from a list of approved ICT providers. To date, the marketplace involves about 400 service providers.

“We have significantly achieved the goals of the original data centre program. Pretty much every agency has a footprint there. There are still some remaining migrations that have to happen, but if you look at the floorspace occupation, the original two buildings have been filled,” he said.

“What we’re looking at is to extending the benefits of hosting in GovDC to other relevant partners that we can work with: universities, [the wider] education sector and local government.”

Leonas, who is the former director of infrastructure and operations at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and formerly the CIO of Transport for NSW, said GovDC is starting discussions with a number of universities.

“We see a significant level of interest because everything wants to have high availability – not to worry about commodity items – and to be able to concentrate on their core business.”

Leonas left his UNSW post, where he was helping the university undertake a digital transformation journey.

“The university was very keen to move into the 21st century, operating in a 24/7 mode, and obviously this requited certain changes to the way operations were run.”

During his time at the university, he became familiar with GovDC. The university is now almost fully migrated into GovDC.

In education, there are two interesting challenges, he explains.

“One is the desire to move into a 24/7 mode of operation, and GovDC can help them with this. The second challenge universities have is around the migration process. It is not a simple process; it is typically a very significant zoo with a lot of species in it. So it requires very careful planning and some rationalisation.

“But more importantly, the academic cycle is a very narrow window – sometime from November until February or March to do the migration. And the process of migration takes time,”he said.

Like educational facilities, said local government is a “natural fit” given there’s a need for ease of use, lower price points, and need a pathway for digital transformation.

“We already have a couple of councils utilising our facilities of GovDC, and we’re engaging in discussions with a number of other councils.”

Leonas said he’s in a unique position to take the message to market, given he’s been on both sides of the fence: both as a client and the service provider.

“I have been a CIO for about 20 years. I have also spent some time on the vendor side, so I really understand both sides of the business. This role is really about partnerships. It’s not about forcing people to do something, it’s about finding a win-win for all of the partners involved.”