DTA puts out call to vendors to join new Cloud Marketplace

Cloud Marketplace Update

The Federal Government’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has invited cloud providers to join its revamped cloud tender service, revising the launch date for its new Cloud Marketplace (CMP) to early 2021.

The new CMP will assist government agencies in sourcing Anything-as-a-service (XaaS) and specialist cloud-related professional services from solutions providers.

The Marketplace will succeed the existing Cloud Services Panel (CSP), due to be retired in March 2021.

Though originally slated for launch in the middle of this year, plans to replace the Cloud Services Panel with the Marketplace were put on hold by the DTA, with the agency citing the “significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented disruptions being faced by most workplaces”. Curiously, these plans were announced in February this year, prior to the lockdown period.

Based on a nearly decade-old National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of what a cloud service should offer, the existing Panel model appears to be quickly approaching its use-by date, hence the DTA’s push for change.

In a review of its business case to extend or renew the CSP, the DTA said the panel model was in need of an upgrade to better suit industry developments and changing buyer needs, including more flexible access to ‘Anything-as-a-Service’ (XaaS) offerings.

A DTA cloud discussion paper also noted that digital sourcing arrangements appear to be shifting towards a ‘marketplace’ concept from traditional panel arrangements that better suit the current cloud market.

Upon launch, the new Marketplace will, “for the first time”, use a public beta of a new online Digital Tendering Platform (DTP) to submit Request for Tender (RFT) responses.

The DTA assures applicants that the DTP will remain hosted on government infrastructure, allowing “secure online access from anywhere for sellers to develop and submit their RFT responses”.

The new Marketplace could see a changing of the guard for the Panel’s current seller list, with existing cloud suppliers required to reapply to gain access to the Marketplace.

In the future, selected panellists could offer up to 25 cloud services through the new Marketplace.

Playing host to sensitive government data, sellers must, however, prove their cloud service is hosted in a data centre – or third-party data centre – located in Australia.

Drivers for change

The CSP has facilitated over $130 million in Commonwealth cloud contracts since its inception in 2015, according to the Government’s Cloud Marketplace Discussion Paper.

As of September 2019 figures, the panel hosts upwards of 500 cloud services from more than 240 sellers, including overseas cloud providers. Nearly 70 per cent of sellers on the Panel are from small-to-medium enterprises.

The dynamics of cloud computing are, however, changing, the Discussion Paper noted.

As a result, the latest marketplace approach has been shaped by newer service offerings and applications that utilise “X-as-a-service” consumption models.

These services or apps may incorporate AI and machine learning, identity or access management, the internet of things (IoT), network connectivity, data migration, storage back-up, analytics, forecasting and reporting.

Flexible consumption-based model

Vendors’ evolving cloud consumption models have forced a change in how public agencies utilise and pay for their cloud services.

XaaS encompasses any computing service that is delivered via the internet and paid for in a flexible consumption model rather than as an upfront purchase or license.

“Leading vendors are updating their licensing models and reseller channels to promote cloud-based delivery and to maintain and expand their respective market-shares,” the Discussion Paper said.

“This provides more opportunities to get better value-for-money when buying cloud services.”

Additionally, security accreditation, location, and transparency of deployment models are key considerations when agencies buy cloud services, the paper adds.

“Easy access and confirmation of security measures will remain a requirement of buyers.

“Buyer demands are also changing. The influence of industry developments and technological advances are pushing buyers to look for more evolved cloud services.

“Buyers are also showing an increased readiness to adopt cloud-centric Managed Services when outsourcing their ICT requirements.”