Delays hit Defence's massive data centre overhaul

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Delays hit Defence's massive data centre overhaul

Delivery deadline set back.

The delivery of the Defence department’s multi million-dollar new data centre capability has been set back due to problems deploying a private cloud and migrating applications.

Defence signed its eight-year centralised processing contract with Abacus Innovations - the former IT services arm of Lockheed Martin that was spun off with defence contractor Leidos late last year - in 2014.

The effort is intended to drastically cut costs while simplifying Defence’s massive IT environment, and improve responsiveness and flexibility of systems as well as disaster recovery and business continuity.

The arrangement sees Abacus slim down Defence’s data centre footprint from 280 over-subscribed and end-of-life computer rooms to 11 local and three international facilities that host a private cloud set-up. The 11 domestic data centres have been commissioned, but the three international centres are still being remediated.

The private cloud component - which has been built using Microsoft, Oracle Solaris, and NetApp technologies - was made operational in late 2015.

But the department has since run into difficulties getting it deployed into the 14 local and international facilities, iTnews can reveal.

This, coupled with trouble shifting some of Defence’s business applications into the new environment, has set back the delivery of full operations for the centralised processing capability to the fourth quarter of this year.

When the government undertook its first principles review of the Defence department in 2015, it found the agency had 2500 IT applications - including 300 financial applications - on its books.

The agency has been on a campaign to rationalise and standardise its application portfolio since then, but this has been somewhat of a challenge given a number of its applications are extremely critical and/or only compatible with older versions of software.

Defence CIO Peter Lawrence told iTnews the agency had so far managed to rationalise its desktop application set down by a third, while server application rationalisation was about 25-30 percent complete.

But the migration of Defence's business applications to the new centralised processing capability had been "slower than planned", a department spokesperson said.

Similarly, delays establishing “specific capabilities required for some applications” had set back the project, as had the slower-than-expected introduction of “core data centre capabilities” for the private cloud deployment.

The department said it was working closely with Abacus to remediate the issues and mitigate the impact of the delay.

“Final operating capability is scheduled for delivery in 2017’s fourth quarter,” a spokesperson said.

“[This] will be achieved when the full scope of services, including all systems and facilities as required under the centralising processing contract, have been delivered and accepted into operational service.”

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