The Department of Defence has finally kicked off its long-awaited mammoth project to overhaul the way it provides desktop services to around 115,000 users, issuing a landmark request for interest document to suppliers yesterday.
The department has long had two separate desktop platforms — its Defence Restricted Network (DRN), which most of its staff (75,000) use, and its Defence Secret Network (DSN), which most of the rest use, although some staff use both and require two PCs on their desks.
But Defence chief information officer Greg Farr has long flagged the need to modernise Defence's desktop infrastructure, with the potential to use thin client options on the desktop to simplify users' access to information resources.
According to the tendering documents released yesterday, Defence is looking for one or more suppliers to support what it is calling its Next Generation Desktop project, providing the design, supply and installation of an overarching solution, which would cover the delivery of desktop services, applications out to desktops and one single security platform — as well as support of the solution after implementation.
Defence will seek a single contractor to be the point of contact for the project, although it noted it encouraged specialist suppliers to team up to meet its needs.
Out of scope for the project will be Defence's personnel and systems deployed overseas, the department's "top secret" domains, any datacentre acquisition or relocation and anything touching Defence's network assets.
The documents went into some detail about Defence's current environment, noting that the department currently used either traditional desktop PCs (what it called a "thick client" environment) to deliver services to users or server-based computing delivered through Citrix's XenApp 4.5 suite. Most of the desktops run Windows XP, with Windows Server 2003 as a back end and Office 2003 as Defence's office suite.
Some applications are pushed out to the thick client desktops via Citrix, while some — such as Defence's specialised corporate applications ADF Pay, PMKeyS, Roman and SDSS/MIMS — are deployed in a traditional client/server model.