ACCC to decommission Adelaide data centre

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ACCC to decommission Adelaide data centre

Reveals project to bring secure data to iOS devices.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will shutter its Adelaide data centre this financial year after migrating the IT systems in it to a facility in Canberra.

The project is one of a number of IT initiatives detailed in a joint annual report by the ACCC and Australian Energy Regulator, for which the ACCC supplies "staff, resources and facilities".

"The ACCC had until recently operated its Australian Energy Regulator (AER) data centre from its Adelaide offices," the report stated (pdf).

"During the later part of 2011–12 the AER Systems were relocated to the central Canberra data centre allowing for the Adelaide data centre to be decommissioned in 2012–13."

Besides data centre consolidation, the ACCC was also in the process of decommissioning and reducing usage of file servers "across all remote sites", the report revealed.

It completed the migration "of all ACCC users to visual desktops, allowing simplified operation from any ACCC desktop, site or remote connection", and "expanded the use of central repositories for information ... removing redundancy and inefficiencies in remote offices."

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Mobile extension

The ACCC also undertaking a "pilot study ... to deliver email, calendar updates and documents securely to tablet and smart phone devices" (pdf).

"The pilot applied the iOS hardening guidelines issued by the Defence Signals Directorate in 2012," the ACCC stated.

The guidelines urge agencies to ensure apps used in unclassified environments take advantage of the security features in iOS 5.

Though incomplete, the ACCC noted that the user response to date to the pilot study "has been positive".

In the interim, staff using mobile devices at ACCC offices in Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney could make use of an "unsecured wireless network".

The ACCC noted that while the network "supports the use of mobile devices by staff", its primary purpose was "to decrease the effect of any possible system outage".

System reliability

The ACCC credited the start of an ICT overhaul in May — coinciding with the start of a new managed services agreement with Datacom — for a reduction in system outages.

It said many outages "related to out of date or unsupported components" that had been identified by the ACCC in the drafting of a "technical roadmap review" in the 2010-11 financial year.

Once the Datacom contract was initiated, "priority was given to modernising the server hardware fleet, increasing redundancy to our critical systems, updating software versions, introducing service management facilities, and improved business continuity facilities," the ACCC stated.

The commission signed on to Microsoft's volume licensing arrangement to access "new operating systems, desktop productivity and specialist software".

It also reviewed its software licensing generally and discontinued undisclosed product usage to "achieve savings".

All desktops were standardised on Office 2007 in 2011-12, though plans were already underway to move to Office 2010 once "other software upgrades are completed".

The move to Office 2007 was designed to limit "the need to run multiple versions of Office and having to inefficiently convert files to the correct format[s]."

The ACCC also performed hardening works on its ICT environment "in line with Defence Signals Directorate recommendations, to resist cyber attacks".

Hardware refresh

The ACCC noted a major refresh of desktop and laptop computers in 2011-12, moving to "equipment from whole-of-government panel providers, compliant with sustainability guidance."

Old 19-inch monitors on desktops were replaced with new 24-inch screens, which the commission noted reduced "typical power consumption from 38W to 21W (or 2W to 0.1W in standby mode)".

"In many cases two monitors were replaced by one of the larger screens," the ACCC stated. "Larger screens also improved user experience."

The ACCC said some laptops were replaced "with lighter, energy-efficient tablet devices, reducing power consumption and weight when travelling".

Information management

The ACCC noted a major milestone with the bedding down of a new electronic document record management system (EDRMS).

Three years in the making, the system moved "onto a business-as-usual footing" in 2011-12, after taking 18 months to roll out and train staff on.

"The original implementation was supported by a series of software releases through the year to increase stability and improve productivity," the commission stated.

"It has now reached the point where it is workable and provides the ACCC with a state of the art electronic document management system.

"While it began as an IT project, it resulted in a project in which the entire organisation was involved, since it affected the day to day work of each staff member, no matter what their level.

"It has been an example of how the different business areas of the ACCC can work together to deliver an outcome for the benefit of everyone".

A series of pilot projects were also underway to improve access to data and record repositories.

"Objectives of the pilots are to improve understanding in areas of product safety, energy regulation and document discovery," the ACCC added.

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