Home Affairs is seeking to rationalise its unified communications platforms as part of a broader strategy to streamline technology at the mega-department.
Because of the department’s heritage, multiple, overlapping communications technologies are currently employed. A range of systems for telephony, videoconferencing, email, IM and presence have “largely been developed and implemented in parallel with each other, only occasionally merging as the technologies advanced,” states a request for expressions of interested issued by Home Affairs.
“This means that systems commonly have separate user interfaces and run in separate environments, often on different operating systems.”
The department wants to migrate from the “current mixed communications platform comprised of systems from a variety of vendors with different service providers to a UC platform ideally supplied by a single service provider”
Home Affairs is a relatively young department: It was established in December 2017 in response to the review of Australia’s intelligence community conducted by Professor Michael L'estrange.
The department was formed out of a fusion of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection with national security and criminal justice functions from the Attorney-General’s Department, as well as transport security, multicultural affairs, and counter-terrorism and cyber security functions from other departments.
Its agencies include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, Border Force, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
The 2018-19 federal budget earmarked $130 million, including $94 million in capital funding, to improve the ICT capabilities of the department.
The department’s national security and law enforcement roles means that its future UC platform will need to support classified communications, including instant messaging, presence, internal voice and video calls, and internal video streaming at the PROTECTED level. The platform will also need to work on mobile devices connected outside its enterprise network.
A key driver for the rollout is the department’s near-term push to consolidate its offices in Canberra and elsewhere. The new offices will include “collaboration spaces” with UC being “the key technology platform allowing staff to access information and collaboration applications/hardware quickly, seamlessly and effectively.”
Home Affairs’ Technology Strategy 2020 revealed that the department has around 41,000 desktops, 900 applications, seven data centres and close to 6600 servers underpinned by networks supporting unclassified as well as PROTECTED, SECRET and TOP SECRET data.
The document said that Home Affairs has a “diverse and complex web of different hardware, operating systems and software versions,” with that complexity increasing support and maintenance costs.
The strategy stated that the “consolidation of applications onto a defined set of strategic technology platforms will standardise and simplify the environment, reduce the cost of maintaining systems (and the skills required to support them), and will enable the adoption of cloud based services that will increase the scalability and speed of deploying new technology across the organisation.”