NBN Co reveals IT rollout progress

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NBN Co reveals IT rollout progress

Rare look at infrastructure.

NBN Co has reported "massive progress" in its IT infrastructure rollout as it started work on the first of two data centres and embarked on a second wave of recruitment to support the deployment program.

The network builder's head of portals and online services Michael Bromley told a conference yesterday that NBN Co had received the go-ahead to construct its first data centre.

It would be brought online by next January, he said.

NBN Co planned to build data centres in Sydney and Melbourne, according to solutions development manager Tony Christensen. But NBN Co spokesman Rhonda Griffin later told iTnews that "NBN Co has not yet awarded the tender for its first data centre though we are close to making an announcement".

"At this stage NBN Co has not selected a site or supplier for a second data centre," she said.


Both data centres were to be completely virtualised - from servers to load balancers and firewalls. Virtualisation would speed the deployment of new systems by reducing the amount of manual intervention required, he said.

NBN Co was using Oracle VM Server to host its database servers, but Bromley and Christensen could not comment about other products being used in the wider IT operation.

One problem with having the data centres so far apart was that block-level replication processes used for data back-ups were "not as robust" as when the data centre locations were closer, Christensen said.

NBNCo would use Oracle database replication and similar technologies to overcome the challenge.

Bromley was not at liberty to speak in detail about the company's overall IT strategy but noted the requirement to go from start-up to enterprise scale almost overnight was both good and bad news.

"It's the most exciting and scary thing you can imagine," he said.

NBN Co's focus, he told iTnews, was on building the core systems and scaling up the people, processes and systems.

The company implemented Oracle E-Business Suite as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in an unusually short time.

"It's been deployed widely," Christensen said.

Additional modules were still being rolled out, he said.

The next big tasks for Bromley's group were the implementation of the operations support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS), which were at a request for proposal (RFP) stage.

These systems were a key part of NBNCo's plans as they would, for example, allow ISPs to order and configure services for their clients.

Full-time focus

NBN Co established multiple groups within its IT function backed by consultants and contractors to help it get a rapid start.

But the company had an ongoing program to shift responsibility to full-time staff.

"We're continuing to skew to full-time NBNCo employees," Bromley said,

He said the company's IT operation was undergoing a second hiring wave this week. iTnews reported last week that a hiring freeze instituted during the federal election campaign had been overturned.

Bromley confirmed that, once it was settled that Australia had a Labor government, he received approval to appoint permanent staff for three teams within the portals and online services group.

No candidates that had been offered positions were lost as a result of the election hiatus, he said.

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