Federal family dept eyes Vista

Federal family dept gets ready for Vista

The federal department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) yesterday went to market for a new PC supplier for the next three years, specifying any new hardware it buys must be ready for Windows Vista.

The requirements were revealed in tender documents released yesterday by the department, which has a current fleet of some 3,000 desktop and 300 laptop PCs. The business version of Microsoft's next-generation operating system is due in November this year, with the consumer version hitting shelves early 2007.

FaCSIA issued a list of its minimum specifications for both desktop and laptop PCs, including the following key requirements:

  • Dual-core, 64-bit CPU
  • 1Gb DDR400 RAM
  • 60Gb hard disk drive
  • CD/DVD multi-recorder
  • 256MB video card
  • 19" LCD monitor
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Vista Enterprise/Ultimate
  • Bitlocker-compatible Trusted Platform Module (optional)

"The specifications above are to allow for multiple vendors/CPU main board, chipset options that are Vista-compatible as defined in the Microsoft hardware compatibility list, therefore future-proofing the desktop hardware over its life expectancy," said the department.

FaCSIA refreshed approximately 2,000 of its 3,000 PCs during the 05/06 financial year, saying it would purchase new hardware on an "as needs basis".

The department will select a PC vendor in the next few months.

Beyond the desktop
The department also gave details of its wider ICT environment as part of the tender documents.

A Windows XP, Service Pack 2 desktop standard operating environment is in use, including Microsoft Office 2003, with Outlook 2003 for e-mail and integration with the department's document management system iManage.

Citrix is used for remote access, with terminal emulation software also used for some applications. Microsoft's Communicator collaboration tool is also in use.

On the enterprise applications side, the department maintains both Siebel and SAP environments.

"FaCSIA is developing a comprehensive online grants management system called FaCSIA Online Funding Management System (FOFMS)," said the documents.

"FOFMS is a Siebel Web-based application, available via the Internet and Intranet. FaCSIA's Internet service provider Cybertrust provides Internet Access."

FOFMS is implemented on the department's standard server platform -- Windows 2000 and Windows 2003, with a Microsoft Web server and SQL 2000 database also in place connecting into Adobe's LiveCycle document management software.

The department said while Siebel was currently only used for FOFMS, the software was viewed as a potential platform for other corporate applications. FaCSIA is also currently extending FOFMS to incorporate child care services.

FaCSIA said it currently had 80 servers, but it is unclear if this detail related only to the Siebel environment or is a total number.

Other systems in use include:

  • SAP (financials and HR)
  • Concord System Edge/e-Health (systems management)
  • Microsoft Active Directory (authentication)
  • Hewlett-Packard Open View (network node manager)
  • Mercury Interactive - Topaz (performance monitoring)
  • Microsoft SMS 2003 (remote control/software deployment)
  • Microsoft MOM 2005 (desktop deployment monitoring and reporting)
  • Microsoft Exchange 2003 (e-mail/collaboration)
  • Symantec (anti-virus)

The department's main data centre is located in Tuggeranong Office Park, Canberra, with a separate disaster recovery facility also located in the same suburb.

FaCSIA has around 2700 staff and bills itself as the government's principal source of advice on social policy issues. The department's Web site says it is responsible for around a quarter of the government's budgetary outlays.

"FaCSIA works in partnership with other government and non-government organisations in the management of a diverse range of programs and services which support and improve the lives of Australians," the site says.