Defence to procure 'Next Generation Desktops'

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Defence to procure 'Next Generation Desktops'

Thin clients sought to replace one-size-fits-all approach.

The Department of Defence kicked off an overhaul of its 115,000-seat desktop environment by issuing a request for suppliers this week.

The so-called 'Next Generation Desktop Project' was part of the department's ICT reform program, which was expected to cut its ICT expenditure by $1.9 billion within ten years.

Next Generation Desktops were to transform Defence's existing one-size-fits-all approach to a dynamic, user-centric delivery model based on each user's location, application requirements and profile.

A spokesperson for the Department expected the new desktops to be introduced early next year.

Defence said that today, only ten percent of the department's 95,000 users access virtualised desktops (via Citrix's XenApp 4.5 suite) either remotely, on thin clients, for specific applications, or from non-Windows systems like Linux and Sparc.

The majority of users connected to the Defence network via traditional PC-based technology with Windows XP and Windows 2003 back-end server software.

Tender documents called for a thin client solution that would simplify the desktop experience for all end users, with infrastructure hosted in at least one centralised data centre, and less than ten distributed consolidated data centres.

A hybrid thin/thick model also would be considered, as long as it met the project's goals of reducing desktop hardware and support costs, prolonging the lifespan of desktop hardware, improving functionality, supporting data centre consolidation, and improving utilisation of existing server resources.

Defence sought one or more suppliers to deliver and support an optimised virtualisation solution. The successful bidder is also asked to simplify Defence's secure networks so that it woudl no longer need to duplicate hardware according to different levels of security.

Initially, the solution would be implemented in a pilot involving 500 users. After implementation, the supplier also would be responsible for providing maintenance, helpdesk, hardware and software support.

Defence centralised its desktop procurement process last year, with the establishment of an interim Whole of Government panel for the supply of Desktop ICT Equipment.

A spokesperson told iTnews that the department indended to work with the industry and would continue to leverage Microsoft technologies and licences "as appropriate".

"Defence will be engaging with Industry to develop the Next Generation Desktop," she said. "It is unknown at this stage how much of the existing desktop fleet will be reused or will need to be replaced."

The request for tender closed on 28 May, afterwhich applications would be evaluated on a value-for-money basis.

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