Treasury selects Avaya for SDN upgrade

The Commonwealth Treasury has begun rolling out an Avaya SDN Fx architecture to replace its existing legacy network and keep up with parliamentary demand.

The Department of Treasury has begun the rollout of a software-defined network architecture solution from Avaya which will replace the department's legacy network infrastructure.

According to Treasury's CTO Ricardo Alberto, the move to Avaya's SDN Fx architecture was a necessity to continue the tasks his department is charged with.

"If you don't keep up with the technology, the legacy infrastructure is unable to provide the additional services that are going to be necessary," he said.

"To be able to efficiently provide policy advice there's a number of tools and new tools that are constantly becoming available that will actually make things more efficient.

"If you don't have up-to-date systems -- particularly underpinning systems like a network -- you're just simply unable to deliver the improvements that we have to continue to deliver if we're going to be more efficient and be able to do more with less."

SDN Fx is based on Fabric Connect networking technology, which utilises a single, industry-standard protocol -- Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) -- which Avaya said provides simplicity, speed, and resiliency that modern network architectures require. The solution also provides a seamless transition from legacy environments, which Alberto said is necessary.

"I've been with the Treasury for about five years and we've had a number of steps to get to where we are now," he said.

"It changes the way the network architecture works from the traditional model where you have a core switch and everything goes through the core switch to be a bit more agile and defined so that things that need to talk to other things talk more directly, rather than going through a bottle neck."

Alberto said this is not a project that required an end to end replacement, calling it an evolutionary upgrade of the network -- updating the technology to accompany the upgraded network.

The network also provides reliable access to key applications, such as the Treasury's Budget Management System (BMS) and other economic and tax modelling software, which are critical to its ability to deliver the budget on time.

"The budget is a very important part of what Treasury produces, and the expectation is that we do produce. Over time, the expectations of IT systems are such that the systems are available all the time and are responsive all the time," he said.

"If I go back to where we were five years ago, where the systems were legacy systems in need of some attention, it wouldn't have been uncommon if the network had fallen over and we weren't able to either print documents or update our models and so on to actually produce the budget -- I think it doesn't meet the expectations of Treasury from a government perspective, or from a public perspective either.

"People expect the budget to be handed down on time ... so it really needs to happen."

Due to the automation of tasks displacing jobs, Alberto said his department faces more pressure to provide services, which requires the technology to be up-to-date and capable. He also said that reliance on the network plays a big part in delivering documents such as the budget, as a lot of people are contributing to a project at any one time.

"It's a huge production every year," he said. "You need to be confident that the infrastructure that underpins all of these systems is pretty solid."

The initial stages of the implementation also underpins systems such as security services, archiving, VoIP, and CCTV/IPTV.

"From the technology perspective it's really a network that's capable," Alberto said. "It has been a work in progress, and it's required over a number of years through opportunities and other projects that have necessitated improvement in the network -- we've taken those opportunities and used them to keep the systems relevant.

As a result, Alberto said his department is able to provide a lot more services than before.

"That's why we keep systems up to date because the digital age is about working anywhere, having things available when people want them available and wherever they are," he said. "Certainly within the Treasury building we provide a very mobile environment and outside of the Treasury building with the virtual desktop type environment we make that available outside of the building as well."

The department inked a AU$2 million deal with Nutanix in December to shift into a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment as a part of a move to replace its ageing fleet of 1,300 PCs that have reached end of life after five years.

At the time, Alberto said that the Nutanix-based VDI environment has been created to act as a centralised datacentre environment featuring storage, computer, and memory, much like what would be expected to be found in any local desk-based PC environment.

Whilst not accompanying contracts, Alberto said that the Avaya solution, by way of network reliance, will aid in delivering the Nutanix virtual desktop to its full capacity.

In November, Brisbane-based software firm TechnologyOne signed a AU$5.8 million deal with the department to provide its preconfigured software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, OneGovernment.

According to TechnologyOne, upwards of 15 government departments will take advantage of the shared service over the next three years with the Australian Bureau of Statistics slated to implement the solution by mid-2016.

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