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The project will allow personnel to access multiple, classified networks from a single device, replacing the current practice of having separate machines for 'restricted' and 'secret' domains.
Personnel will choose from either accessing each domain on a separate monitor, or calling up domain-specific, virtualised applications from a single desktop interface using Citrix XenApp and Microsoft App V.
Defence selects Thales for Next Gen Desktops
The Next Generation Desktop project was born from a 2009 ICT strategy report that identified a need to improve how Defence personnel accessed 'restricted' and 'secret' networks.
Defence went to tender for a supplier to overhaul its 115,000-seat desktop environment last April and shortlisted Raytheon, BAE Systems, Thales and HP in October last year.
Assistant secretary of infrastructure architecture Daniel McCabe told iTnewsthis week that it had selected a solution from Thales' Raytheon Trusted Computer Solutions range.
For the Next Generation Desktop project, Defence will purchase new thin client devices to replace end-of-life desktops and install virtual thin client software on any hardware that will be reused.
Hardware is reused in accordance with Defence's four-year desktop refresh cycle. Following the Next Generation Desktop project, Defence expects to replace its thin clients only every seven years.
McCabe said the new refresh cycle was aligned with Defence's experience with thin clients in "a few small depots" over the past seven years. The devices tended to last longer as they had no moving parts, he said.
In a small-scale trial on a Navy ship, Defence found that by saving space, Next Generation Desktops stopped personnel from having to spend time putting away and retrieving various devices just to access a different network.
Along with the new cross-domain capabilities, the project will move Defence from Windows XP to the Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft will cease supporting Windows XP in April 2014.
Other commercial off-the-shelf software, including Office 2010, will be served from Defence's data centres, which will be consolidated from 400 to less than ten under a Centralised Processing Project.
Defence expects to appoint a supplier for the multi-million dollar Centralised Processing Project in 2014, based on requirements of the Next Generation Desktops.
McCabe explained that Defence wanted to be running the minimum number of data centres that would still provide it with a suitable level of redundancy, business continuity and disaster recovery.
Thales will be expected to train Defence personnel on using the new thin clients, office suite and operating system. Defence will also provide computer-based training programs, McCabe said.
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