Contracts for a cloud-based desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) have been awarded to New Zealand company Datacom, and global suppliers Dimension Data and Fujitsu. These companies will take on management of government agencies' desktop computer operating system and software applications.

The all-of-government desktop computer service will make workplaces more flexible and help agencies work together more closely to deliver better public services, says Government Chief Information Officer Colin MacDonald.

''This new service is an important building block in a suite of product offerings that will soon be available -- all intended to simplify ICT management in government agencies, help them work together, and make them more efficient and effective," he says.

"This means agencies don't have to buy, build, install and operate computer hardware and software. Instead, they can purchase it as a service and access it through the Internet, paying only for what they use, like a utility. Agencies can scale up or down as it suits them."

While initial purchase prices may be similar to current costs, agencies will reduce procurement expenses as they will not need to go to tender, and they will benefit over time from economies of scale achieved by volume discounts.

"Agencies can focus on creating more services that customers want and expect, rather than having to worry about owning, operating and maintaining large amounts of ICT infrastructure," MacDonald says.

"DaaS will help make government workplaces more flexible by enabling people to access their own desktop from different locations, rather than being tied to their own computer," he says. "This will make a big difference to the ability of government agencies to work together to deliver better public services."

Five agencies are ready to take up DaaS as soon as the service is available with eight more agencies and Crown entities close behind. In total, this represents more than 30,000 computers.

Other cloud products coming over the next few months include a document and records management service and an office productivity service that will standardise the approach to email and calendars.