Australia's cyber spooks to outsource support, dev

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Australia's cyber spooks to outsource support, dev

Want to quickly scale up IT operations.

The Australian Signals Directorate is looking to sign up an army of software developers and service desk officers from the private sector to tackle a growing workload that is outstripping its existing resources.

The signals intelligence body wants to create a shortlist of industry partners who can deliver a temporary workforce of security-cleared IT professionals to support the ASD as it quickly scales up its operations.

Tender documents reveal the ASD is planning to expand its three discrete ‘protected’ level IT environments out to 15 'protected' and 'unclassified' zones within the next three years.

This will also see its fleet of physical servers grow from 20 to 150, user endpoints grow from 100 to 600, virtual machines grow from 100 to 1000, and storage requirements grow from 200TB to 10PB.

The ASD is one of the federal agencies lumped with work initiated by the government’s $230 million cyber security strategy.

It is looking to enter into a “long-term working relationship” with an industry partner that can fill the gaps in its operating capability, which have a tendency to scale up or scale down rapidly and at short notice.

“This procurement process is intended to address appropriate security cleared personnel, ICT service support and ICT development limitations currently being experienced by the cyber program within ASD,” tender documents state.

The ASD wants support and service desk activities to be based out of the service provider’s own locations, since it doesn’t have any space left to house these extra workers.

The agency has, however, offered to front up the cost of processing security clearances for an agreed number of contractors as part of the establishment of the contract. In return, the service provider will be expected to stick to KPIs limiting staff turnover under the deed.

The ASD said the majority of the work to be done under the new contract will deal with classified government information, meaning “the ability of the [service provider] to meet Australian government security requirements is paramount”.

Contractors will be assigned to answering calls from some of Australia’s top cyber spies on the outsourced service desk.

Developers will be tasked with working on everything from system design and architecture to testing and implementation. They may also need to lend a hand spinning up new infrastructure solutions, which the ASD said could potentially include hybrid cloud environments.

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