1.5B SGD outsourcing contract
IDA our Infocom regulator is working on a 1.5B SGD (about 891M USD / 733M EUR) outsourcing deal. They will define a Standard ICT operating environment (SOE), that will be the mandatory desktop environment for all government agencies/ministries/stat boards except the Ministry of Defence, which travelled down the Linux desktop road and are a lost cause/beacon of hope (depending on your view).
From the press release: S$1.5 billion worth of IT tenders to be called will be for a Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOE) project which the Government is going to embark on. The SOE comprises a standard desktop environment and a standard network environment. Examples of components to be standardised are desktop operating system and desktop management tool. "A Standard ICT Operating Environment will greatly enhance the operating efficiency in government. It will reduce the time needed to deploy new ICT services in government, improve our ability to respond to ICT security threats, and most importantly, make it easier to operate and maintain our desktops and networks," said Mr Chan Yeng Kit, CEO of IDA at Industry Briefing 2005.
(It also will allow attackers to sweep all public sector sites once they found a loophole). The interesting twist: the ministries run their own backbones, only the desktops are standardized. This underlines the perception, that desktops (in terms of operation and software) are a commodity now. The contract will sport a "pay per use" model with the government unloading IT assets to the successful contractor and renting them back.
The tender hasn't been published yet, but you can safely bet, that the knifes are out and the fight is on: what will be the office application (my bet: MS Office), the mail environment (My bet: Lotus Notes), the OS (My bet: XP, Vista and a flavour of Linux). The battle is on for: will there be a .net framework, a JVM (which one?). The Eclipse RCP? Java webstart? What browser? I'm wondering how the outsourcing contract will be structured to allow for flexibility and optimization. Catering to individual needs is typically opposite to the economic interest of the outsourcing company, thus a huge risk of missed productivity increases exist. Or is the era of the desktop tools over (at least here), new applications will run in a browser and Microsoft truly lost the API war?