Australia’s Department of Defence has a mission to defend Australia and its national interests. ‘In fulfilling this mission, Defence serves the Government of the day and is accountable to the Commonwealth Parliament— which represents the Australian people—to efficiently and effectively carry out the Government’s defence policy’.1 In response to this mission, and in light of the current technological and fiscal environments, Assistant Secretary Infrastructure Architecture Branch, Mr. Daniel McCabe from the Chief Information Officer Group (CIOG), Department of Defence has been working to modernise Defence’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) networks by consolidating data centres and preparing backend environments for the realisation of a Single Information Environment (SIE).
Modernising Defence’s ICT networks, which was heavily distributed and provided declining IT service and flexibility, calls for a full-scale consolidation across Defence’s data centres, computer rooms, and desktops. Each of these efforts has the goals of providing an SIE to improve and strengthen infrastructure and maintenance services, while reducing operational costs. The desktop portion of this project is referred to as the Next Generation Desktop (NGD) and consists of both single network and multiple network access. NGD will provide streamlined desktop and application access to approximately 100,000 users, with 15% of those users requiring simultaneous access to multiple networks. NGD looks to provide these users with simultaneous access to the two major networks (Defence Secret Network (DSN) and Defence Restricted Network (DRN)) from a single thin client at the desktop. The goals of NGD are to realise desktop hardware reduction (from 2-4 desktops to 1 client), provide rapid application and desktop deployments, reduce administration and maintenance, while strengthening network security and reducing costs.
After researching other solutions, Defence selected Forcepoint™ Trusted Thin Client® for the multilevel access solution and the user-facing portion of NGD. Trusted Thin Client has been successfully evaluated by Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) after a two-year evaluation period.
The Trusted Thin Client solution consists of secure client software and a Distribution Console server for administration. Trusted Thin Client securely delivers desktops and applications that are housed in virtualised networks in the backend data centre. The ADF selected Citrix® as the desktop virtualisation provider on a Microsoft® Hyper-V™ platform with application delivery by App-V™.
The first portion of the NGD thin client implementation, supporting single level and multilevel users, was rolled out as a pilot to 500 users at 14 sites across the country. The pilot program has shown that the required functionality can be provided to the end users regardless of their location. The pilot has successfully demonstrated that a Server Based Computing solution can deliver a stable, responsive desktop with all of the expected capabilities, including printing. The delivery of a solution of this magnitude requires not only close partnership of the integrator and customer but also of the close partnership of all the technology vendors. Forcepoint works very closely with Thales Australia to provide the in-country design, installation, and support for the NGD initiative.
The implementation of NGD and use of Forcepoint’s Trusted Thin Client will provide a simplified desktop experience that includes access to multiple networks from a single client. NGD will allow Defence to realise a modern ICT network and SIE while capitalising on hardware and administration reductions and cost savings. ‘The pilot program is part of a planned future rollout across Defence, using thin client technology to replace traditional desktops, which will substantially reduce hardware, power and sustainment costs for Defence, generating long term Strategic Reform Program (SRP) savings’.2 This alignment with the Defence SRP is intended to provide gross savings of $20 Billion AUD by 2019. The ICT Reform Program is a stream within the SRP aimed at delivering a savings of $1.9 AUD Billion through ICT efficiency. Under the SRP, the selected vendors, Thales Australia and Forcepoint, were required to demonstrate substantial cost savings
The widespread rollout of NGD with Trusted Thin Client for multilevel access will commence in the middle of 2014 where both cost and operational utility will be gained. Through Trusted Thin Client, users of both the DSN and DRN (at all fixed locations) will be able to access the required domain environment through a single hardware device, in a single session. As the implementation of NGD expands across Defence, shipboard and deployed infrastructures will be based on a common architecture and design standard, which will make them easier to maintain and more secure.