The Northern Territory government has begun replacing its existing home-grown, Lotus Notes/Domino-based whole of government identity management system with a solution from Sun Microsystems.
The territory was undertaking the replacement due to the need for a real "enterprise-strength solution", according to Chris Hosking, the government's director of data centre services in the Department of Corporate and Information Services (DCIS).
DCIS is responsible for the delivery of corporate services to agencies of the territorial government, including information, communications and technology services.
"We were starting to get into the realms of trying to do stuff that our home-grown application was having trouble with," Hosking told ZDNet Australia in a recent telephone interview.
"We started dabbling in this a few years ago, and we've reached the point where it is the central identity management system for our whole of government here in the territory," he added. "We're increasingly relying on it to authenticate to other business applications. We really just needed a commercial-strength product."
Sun won the three-year, AU$1.7 million contract for the solution after a competitive tender process. Hosking said the vendor was chosen on the basis of its ability to meet the government's requirements, in addition to value for money. Hardware, software and services are involved in the deal.
Sun has already commenced the implementation, with the initial phase of the project scheduled to be completed in March.
Getting down to details
Some 15,000 users will be covered by that initial rollout, consisting of most of the Northern Territory's public sector. In this stage Sun's solution will interact with core business applications such as procurement and recruitment management systems.
"Once upon a time, we would have had stand-alone authentication built into them," said Hosking, noting such applications were now covered by the current ID management solution dubbed "epass".
Other systems will also come under the project's umbrella -- for example provisioning of desktop services for new users. "Eventually messaging and telecomms will be part of that as well," said Hosking.
"So you'll be able to pretty much do touch-free provisioning of when someone starts, they can be provisioned with access to the core systems that they need, plus you know, telephone, desktop PC, e-mail account, the usual sort of odds and sods that you need when you come into a job, or change jobs."
However, the project could eventually expand its focus dramatically to encompass a much broader section of the territory's population.
"Eventually this has the potential to manage citizen access to e-government services and those sorts of things," said Hosking.
For example, teachers, parents and their children could use the system to access school reports, which could potentially add another 45,000 users. "But that's a stage two thing," said Hosking.
The executive is confident Sun's solution will scale to encompass many more additional users. DCIS has discussed with the vendor the licensing terms if the solution was dramatically expanded.
Ultimately ID management has come a long way in general in the Northern Territory government.
"I think three or four years ago when we started out on this, we had a couple of true believers, who were saying this is the way of the future, everyone's going to need one of these sooner or later," said Hosking.
"There were plenty of non-believers, but it's in probably the last three years become an integral part of our application infrastructure here."