Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Defence CIO Peter Lawrence Targets Big Data

Trevor Clarke | April 17, 2013 - 3:00PM

Australia's defence chiefs are looking to leverage big data and sensor networks as part of the Defence Department's technology reform program.
Recently installed chief information officer Peter Lawrence says the wide-ranging ICT reform program will provide the modern platform necessary for Defence to launch into "big data". The reform, which began in 2009, is expected to be completed by 2030. It is aimed at saving $1.9 billion in several areas including hardware, software and data centres.
“Where we are on the big data journey is probably a little bit in the early stages,” Dr Lawrence told IT Pro.

Big data is quickly emerging as a big topic among federal government agencies, with the Australian Taxation Office being chosen recently to lead Australia's next wave of data analysis and the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) releasing a paper on the trend.

Dr Lawrence said that while Defence had information management strategies in place it was yet to fully leverage the data available to it.
“That is probably one of the big themes that will emerge for us in the next couple of years."
Technology researcher Gartner says big data drove US$28 billion of worldwide IT spending in 2012 and the figure will rise to more than $US230 billion in 2016.

The Defence ICT strategy set out a vision for improving the way the agency delivers services by, among other things, consolidating infrastructure into three outsourced bundles: terrestrial communications, centralised processing and distributed computing.
Last November, after a process taking more than two years, Telstra was announced as the partner for the billion-dollar terrestrial communications portion, beating Optus and Fujitsu to the lucrative contract.

The winner of the centralised processing contract, which aims to have one vendor for the management and provision of data centres, infrastructure and services, is still at least a year away with Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Lockheed Martin shortlisted.
Defence's distributed computing project, which is aimed at rationalising the number of devices used and creating a single information environment, will be rolled out from next month after a successful pilot last year.

Some 20,000 Defence employees operating in secure environments will be given thin client devices and delivered their desktop environment and applications through virtual desktop infrastructure by early 2014. The remaining 80,000 or so Defence employees will follow.

“The combination of the centralised processing with the network upgrade, and I guess the desktop as well to some extent, really gives us a modern backbone for Defence,” Dr Lawrence said.
In addition to the big data focus, Dr Lawrence says the strategy will include greater standardisation and simplification of Defence's application portfolio along with providing an ability to expand the use of sensor-based technologies.
“The nature of the threats we are facing is absolutely changing,” Dr Lawrence said. “If you look at the cyber dimension and people talk about cyber warfare, about hacking power distribution networks, about toppling the financial systems in countries, the nature of any further war absolutely changes.

"I think that then a lot of our ability to be one step ahead of people where those threats are coming from is absolutely key and that will involve more sensor-based things, it will involve more different uses of technology for us to be able to do that.”


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