Inside Australia Post's IT transformation

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Inside Australia Post's IT transformation

Moving into the digital era.

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Australia Post has spent the last year undergoing a company-wide transformation in order to propel the organisation into the digital era, under its Building Future Ready IT program.

The program, launched last year, underpins the organisation’s Future Ready strategy announced in 2010, and aims to digitise post and build a modern technology organisation.

It will run until the end of 2014 and is part of the $2 billion investment AusPost managing director Ahmed Fahour last year announced would go towards infrastructure, products and services in support of the digital economy.

It is made up of five work streams - building faster and more cost effective technology foundations; implementing a new customer-centric IT operating model; a new Digital Delivery Centre for the delivery of mobile and online products and services; IT leadership and training; and a new approach to information security, ‘Secure at Post’.

The program was the brainchild of CIO Andrew Walduck, who was brought into the organisation to lead the charge to a new digital approach. Walduck joined Post last year after two years as head of shared technology at Tabcorp.

The first workstream, building a series of new technology foundations, ranges from the deal with Telstra for a new IP-based network to provide parcel lockers, digital displays, self-service terminals and Post's Digital Mailbox service, to the current move into NextDC’s $130 million flagship M1 data centre in Melbourne. 

Lift and shift

The post office will move into a starting configuration of over 70 racks in a dedicated pod managed by NextDC’s OneDC data centre as a service (DCaaS) platform as of next month, and will complete the shift after August. 

Post CIO Andrew Walduck told iTnews the move would initially replace two current data centres with a Tier 3 centre.

“Because AusPost is on a big move to digitise its services, it’s got to be able to provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And we need data centres that provide a better level of availability,” he said.

One of the centres to be replaced, the Business Continuity Centre in Melbourne’s Collins St, has been in place for 25 years. It is a major site running the organisation, Walduck said, out of the company’s total of five data centres.

“Everything runs out of the Collins site,” Walduck said.

“We have a core set of applications that underpin all of the revenue and turnover and products and services, our retail systems, our core ERP platform, a number of systems that underpin all of our mail products, and the platform that underpins our parcel products.”

The second data centre to be decommissioned, housed in the NSW Post headquarters in Sydney, is a throwback to a time when the organisation was state-based.

It houses the “handful” of applications that traditionally ran and were supported by the NSW base, including employee systems support as well as operational processing. 

Post also has two additional data centres in Melbourne and Sydney and another in Adelaide. The Adelaide facility has hosted cloud services running from an unnamed third party underpinning some of Post’s digital services.

The second Sydney facility is a failover site while the second Melbourne data centre is a primary production facility, which will be moved into M1 later. 

M1 will become Post’s primary production facility following the Collins St transition. 

The move to M1 will provide a further opportunity for Post to decommission and consolidate a number of applications, something the company has been doing for over a year. 

So far it has consolidated and decommissioned around 1500 applications down to 400. Walduck said the transition to M1 would be made much easier with less to move, resulting in a less-complicated ‘lift and shift’ approach. 

“When something has been in place in a data centre for 25 years, it’s not straightforward, but we’re certainly going through the plans we need to do this. We did a full DR test last year where we ran the whole corporation from Collins St.”

While some applications continue to be slimmed down, others go in. Post recently implemented Salesforce’s SalesCloud for its sales team to “better do their jobs”. 

“It was something where there was a series of different tools, they had a fragmented toolset, we tried to consolidate that into one place,” Walduck said.

“We have a very large SAP platform, it underpins our ERP. We also use the CRM components that provide a single view of customer, we use an amount of supply chain components, a large amount of our parcels business, product management component, we use it for talent management, career management, a lot of things in those are contract management.”

Read on for more on Post's major leadership restructure that is helping to drive the transformation...

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