The Department of Defence will hold a pilot to get an idea of how much it's going to cost to go ahead with its next-generation desktop program, which is set to eliminate the need for staff to use multiple computers to access networks with different levels of security.
The department has long had two separate desktop platforms: its Defence Restricted Network (DRN), which most of its over 100,000 staff 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.
The department had issued an expressions of interest document in April last year for the project, looking for suppliers to provide ideas how they would fix the problem. Now the project has been given first pass approval by the government, and the department is going to run a pilot of thin client and application virtualisation technology to confirm detailed requirements and costs for full implementation of the project.
Apart from delivering a multi-level security capability, the project will also help the department save on support and equipment costs, and will aid in the delivery of software upgrades and the introduction of new applications, according to Defence Minister Warren Snowdon. Energy consumption will also take a fall.
The expression of interest uncovered four vendors which will be invited to join in a restricted tender process, which started yesterday. One vendor will be chosen to work on the pilot from that process. The pilot will run from October this year to April next year.
The government also today gave first pass approval to the Defence's Battlespace Communications System. The project to replace the ADF's ageing telecommunications equipment with newer satellite, wired and wireless networks and systems, which could cost up to $500 million to implement. The government is expected to make a final decision on the project before 2015.
The Department of Defence was also given approval by the government to investigate the potential costs and risks for an overhaul of the department's payroll and human resources system. Defence aims to implement a new system that will allow greater automation of payroll functions and self-service for the 20,000 Defence civilian employees. The report on this investigation is due in the next financial year.
Updated at 4:47pm, 6 May 2011: added extra information from Defence.
Updated at 5:20pm, 6 May 2011: added extra information from Defence on the pilot.