The Queensland state government has initiated a pilot roll-out of an application virtualisation solution intended to deliver HR and finance apps to 150,000 users across multiple agencies.
The government's corporate applications office CorpTech has released a request for tender document for a limited pilot of Citrix's XenApp solution, a major feature of which is application virtualisation technology.
Credit: Tourism Queensland
This technology allows different versions of the same software (such as multiple versions of Microsoft Office or SAP, for example) to be deployed from the same server to multiple desktops.
If successful, the technology will be used to expose the server-hosted functionality of the government's finance, payroll, human resources and employee self-service applications on desktops across multiple Queensland government agencies.
It is hoped that such technology would enable centralised government IT staff to, for example, update and patch applications without having to physically attend to individual desktops.
The project forms part of the Queensland government's Technology Transformation Program, which aims to save the state $135 million through the sharing of services between agencies. This program is currently recruiting a new program director.
The government is also in the throes of one of the country's largest Microsoft Exchange migrations, which will result in the centralised management of 80,000 email accounts.
The pilot program is financed by the Queensland government's $9.5 million ICT Innovation Fund. This program, announced in 2006 and due to expire in November 2008, offers assistance to any Queensland agency developing a solution that can benefit or be deployed across the entire government sector.
The successful tenderer of the pilot has to kick four successive goals, with each phase of the project subject to approval by the ICT Innovation Fund before funding is made available for the next phase.
First, the winning tender must demonstrate a return on investment study which calculates the savings the government could expect using the thin-client technology over fat-client solutions over a five-year period.
With this satisfied, the supplier is asked to provide a solution design report, and with that satisfied it can commence the building and testing of a pilot environment.
The final phase would see the solution rolled out to at least 50 users in a single and as yet unnamed government agency. At least a small portion of those users would have to be connecting to the solution in regional areas or in other areas of low bandwidth.
The maximum budget allocated for all these four phases is $341,000, but any production roll-out of such a wide-reaching system would be worth many millions. Toby Knight, manager of system engineering at Citrix Australia and New Zealand told ZDNet.com.au today that the 64-bit version of the XenApp solution could handle up to 400 users per server, depending on server hardware.
"To serve 150,000 users, you're looking at [between] three and four hundred servers," he said. "The software has no problems with scale: we have several customers in Australia using the solution for tens of thousands of customers."
The tender documents do stress, however, that the successful tenderer for the pilot was given no guarantees that it would win the business of rolling out a production system, which the government will release under a separate tender. CorpTech currently names IBM as its prime contractor for implementing new business solutions.