NSW Transport probes IT 'as a service'

Summary:The newly formed transport super agency, Transport for NSW, is currently flirting with the ambitious idea of abandoning in-house IT infrastructure in favour of as-a-service offerings that would potentially see the migration of 35,000 email accounts, 25,000 desktop environments and 2000 BlackBerry devices to new products.

The newly formed transport super agency, Transport for NSW, is currently flirting with the ambitious idea of abandoning in-house IT infrastructure in favour of as-a-service offerings that would potentially see the migration of 35,000 email accounts, 25,000 desktop environments and 2000 BlackBerry devices to new products.

Transport for NSW represents the unification of the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), NSW Maritime, the Transport Construction Authority and the Country Rail Authority.

The agency last week released a request for information to the market that sees it investigating the possibility of implementing three new strategies for handling its IT requirements: messaging as a service, desktop as a service and mobility as a service.

Transport for NSW cites the rapid industry adoption of as-a-service products, and the associated cost benefits, as a primary reason for looking to move to a per-user, per-month model for its technology. The super agency also believes that moving to such a model will see non-traditional industry players emerge to offer services, and will see the agency avoid vendor lock-in scenarios.

The transition to as-a-service computing is being driven from a senior management level by the group CIO of Transport for NSW, according to tender documents.

"There is now an opportunity to consolidate core ICT functions to ensure performance, cost efficiencies and an improvement of services to internal customers. This document seeks to outline the business requirements for the provision of these core services across the entire transport cluster. The group CIO is actively promoting a strategy of 'as a service', recognising the potential for leveraging the economies of scale and expertise of the private sector in the delivery of core technology platforms and capabilities to government," tender documents said.

The messaging-as-a-service component sees Transport for NSW looking to unify its communications into one suite for all users. Transport for NSW currently has 16 different voice- and data-based communications options at its disposal, including:

  • Microsoft Exchange 2003
  • Microsoft Exchange 2007
  • Lotus Notes/Domino
  • Outlook client (licensed until 2015)
  • Outlook Web Access (OWA)
  • IMAP
  • BlackBerry server
  • Lotus Traveler (iPhone, Android and Nokia)
  • Citrix
  • Microsoft Office 2003/2007/2010 (productivity suite)
  • Objective/Trim/Documentum/SharePoint (document management)
  • Windows XP/7 (desktop operating systems)
  • SAP/Mincom Ellipse (HR/finance)
  • Microsoft Active Directory/Novell eDirectory (network identity management)
  • SAP/CRM for internal service desk
  • Cisco VoIP telephony centric.

The new messaging platform must support 35,000 mailboxes, consisting of 25,000 user mailboxes and 10,000 resource mailboxes for meeting rooms and equipment and resource planning. It must also support the ability for users to instant message, flag emails, delegate tasks, encrypt messages and attachments, view a single address book for all user contacts, filter spam and viruses, prevent data leakage and archive information in accordance with the NSW State Records Act.

Transport for NSW also wants users to be able to access the system when not at their workstations via desktop and mobile versions of the suite.

The agency's mobility-as-a-service component sees Transport for NSW looking to enhance the mobile working capability of its staff, which gives users access to the corporate network, data and application sets anywhere at any time. Mobility-as-a-service vendors will be required to provide an audit trail of data at all times for each of the 25,000 Transport for NSW workers.

This new tender may even see Transport for NSW move slowly away from its 2000 handset-strong BlackBerry mobile fleet. The tender documents state that support for mobile devices is an important consideration, but do not limit said support to just the BlackBerry operating system.

The desktop-as-a-service requirements for Transport for NSW see the agency looking for a cheaper, better-quality desktop environment for its users. It wants to manage a gold master image, complete with core applications for every user, while allowing remote authorisation and unauthorisation of applications, and reducing the customisation of individual workstations.

The new platform would also support remote desktop functionality to improve the way in which permanent staff, contractors and third-party service providers interact with the system. It is also encouraging vendors to pitch systems that support bring-your-own-device models for the agency's 25,000 staff.

The mobility service will also be required to integrate with the messaging- and desktop-as-a-service offerings.

The tender is open for submissions until the end of March.

Topics: BlackBerry, Cloud, Government, Government : AU, Mobility

About

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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