Revealed: NBN Co's IT strategy

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Revealed: NBN Co's IT strategy
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Embracing standards

Standardisation plays a big role in NBN Co’s processes, with CIO Claire Rawlins aiming for “maximum re-use” of technologies.

The company has largely been focused on ITIL version 3 for key service management processes, and TM Forum guidelines for the network build.

TM Forum called for the use of standard, ‘generic blocks’ of platforms and business services that could be re-used in various systems to reduce operational cost and improve business agility.

“Rather than in classic organisations, where you get siloed views and duplicate systems, we are absolutely binary in getting maximum reuse through a capability-based model,” Rawlins told iTnews.

“We’ve used industry standards and broken our platforms down into capabilities. Each of those capabilities is mapped to processes, and then as new requirements come up, the architecture team looks at what capabilities and map what underpinning systems can be reused.”

Rawlins described standardisation and automation as the two design tenets underpinning NBN Co’s IT, which revolved around four end-to-end value streams:

  • lead to cash
  • trouble to resolve
  • plan to pay; and
  • concept to market.

Appointed “champions” within NBN Co promote standard technologies and processes within the company, while an architecture team maps any new requirements against the capabilities of existing, standard systems.

Enterprise architecture head Barnett said NBN Co made sure to use standards and commoditised equipment in its virtual data centres.

Last year, the company inked a $9.5 million deal for use of VMware, Cisco and EMC technology in its Sydney and Brisbane data centres.

“One of the advantages that we have in being a start-up is we don’t have this giant legacy portfolio of conflicting and niche technologies,” Barnett said.

“We have a very strong stance around a standard operating environment, standard applications, standard suites ... that has enormous cost impacts in terms of provisioning and deprovisioning compute resource as and when you need it, as opposed to the long life cycles that you usually have on physical data centre infrastructure.”

While there was no absolute guarantee that solutions would be future-proof, IT infrastructure head McMillan expected the commodity compute route to stave off any need for a total infrastructure refresh.

Rawlins added that NBN Co had chosen products that were backed by big companies with deep pockets.

“One of the things that’s really important for us as technologists is that ultimately, the business has to be a low-cost service provider,” she said.

“That’s driving two things for us: high process standardisation, and a high level of automation.”

Brett Winterford contributed to this story.

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