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Joseph Brookes

DTA readies new data centres panel arrangement

The Australian government is seeking data centre suppliers for its new panel arrangement to be in place early next year, after flagging a need for more genuine competition. Applications for a new Data Centre Panel arrangement opened Monday, revealing a new “prefabricated” category for all-in-one and modular offerings.

Led by the Digital Transformation Agency, the new panel will supersede the Data Centre Facilities Supplies Panel (Panel 2) which has been on place since 2014 and currently has 16 suppliers, including Canberra Data Centres, Fujitsu, NextDC and Macquarie Telecom.

According to tender documents published on Monday, the new arrangement aims to increase the supply and scope of data centre services available to government buyers; support the whole of government hosting strategy and certification framework; and update innovation and sustainability provisions.

The new Data Centre Panel would initially establish offerings for government buyers under the categories of ‘Data Centre Facilities’ and ‘Prefabricated Data Centres’.

Data Centre Facilities includes the secure physical data centre space and facility related components like cooling, backup generators and access to external telecommunications networks.

The Prefabricated Data Centres category includes all-in-one containerised data centre solutions, modular data centre solutions, and associated services.

The Data Centre Panel is “intended to be a constantly evolving panel” which may have more categories or subcategories added over time, while new suppliers can also be added.

The suppliers would offer their data centre products and services under terms in the head agreement it holds with the DTA.

Application are now open for the new panel for both categories and close on September 19.

The DTA expects to complete evaluations by the end of the year and execute head agreements in the first quarter of next year.

Non-Corporate Commonwealth Entities must use the Data Centre Panel to buy certain ‘mandatory offerings’ or substantially similar goods and services. Other Commonwealth Entities, statutory bodies, State, Territory and local government jurisdictions, and inter-jurisdictional bodies may optionally use the Data Centre Panel.

The panel will likely end up including several suppliers certified under the government’s new sovereignty scheme for sensitive data, but this is not a prerequisite.

The new Labor government changed the Commonwealth Procurement Rules in July to channel more procurement towards smaller suppliers and increase competition, including requiring buyers to approach multiple suppliers in panel arrangements.

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