Tassie govt goes virtual

Whole of government contract to replace 125 single use licences

Tasmania's Department of Premier and Cabinet will procure a whole of government licence for server virtualization software to replace individual purchasing by each government department in the state.

The requirement arose following an internal review by a group of government IT managers.

A whole of government virtualization software licence, if fully utilized, has the potential to replace about 125 single use licences, which otherwise would have been purchased by government organizations over the next three years, according to the department.

Tasmania's move is consistent with the rapid tide of interest in virtualization among local enterprises this year, which looks set to continue into 2008.

An umbrella licence will also facilitate a "common solution" among departments, and establish a standing offer for associated support services.

"Tasmanian government organizations are increasingly utilizing server virtualization software to obtain efficiencies in the utilization of computing hardware," according to the department, which also anticipates "significant" financial savings as a result of the contract.

The new contract will be for server virtualization only, and won't include desktop virtualization software.

The technical requirements for the virtualization software itself are not extraordinary and include the ability to run more than one operating system concurrently on a single Windows, NetWare, Solaris or Linux physical server; the ability to dynamically allocate system resources to each virtual server instance according to need; and the ability to convert between physical and virtual server instances.

Training for technical staff is also a requirement of the contract.

In addition to the mandatory requirements, the department has a number of discretionary features on its wish list, including centralized management for virtual server instances, non-disruptive migration of active virtual server instances from one physical server to another and from one storage location to another, and high-availability features like the ability to automatically balance virtual server workloads across physical servers.

Tasmania's main government data centre has a mixture of IBM and HP Intel-based servers sharing a SAN, primarily over fibre channel.

The data centre is connected to a whole-of-government shared data centre facility used to support business continuity services. The shared facility has a mixture of Intel-based servers from various vendors including HP, IBM, Dell and Sun. These servers share a SAN through a mixture of iSCSI and fibre-channel access.

Data management between the two storage environments is provided through a synchronous replication solution.

The new virtualization contract will start in March 2008 and conclude in March 2011.

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