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Issue 1 2014
MAKING the shift to Next Generation Desktop (NGD)
will affect every person in Defence when it is rolled out
across the organisation this year, according to Chief
Information Officer Dr Peter Lawrence.
Peter, who has been running Defence’s Information and
Communications Technology (ICT) network for more
than a year, says NGD will “touch everyone in Defence
over the next couple of years as systems are effectively
upgraded to the Windows 7 environment and all the
“Everyone will see a change in the operating
environment they use,” Peter says.
“Also, as part of the Telstra [Terrestrial Communications
contract], we are going to refresh all the network
connections so we have a higher capacity, more
resilient network to enable NGD to run more effectively.”
Rollout of the new system is scheduled to start early
this year, with the Defence Secret Network the first
to be upgraded, followed by the Defence Restricted
Peter says all the groundwork has been laid for the
transition, which will roll into next year.
“About 1200 people were on NGD as part of a pilot
program which began in late 2012,” he says. “That
pilot proved very useful as we learnt a number of things
about the environment that we managed to improve
and things that did and didn’t work.
“We are currently installing the infrastructure for the
Defence Secret Network and the plan is to start that
rollout as soon as possible using Chief Information
Officer Group (CIOG) as the first group, so we can ‘take
our own medicine’.
“We will then work our way around the country in a
geographical rollout so we can take the teams through
all the areas at the same time.”
There will be full support provided along the way, he
“Our aim is to make the rollout as smooth and as
painless as possible, notwithstanding there will no
doubt be some challenges,” Peter says.
“As the transition nears, there will be more detailed
communications to all the Groups and Services around
what the plans are and how were going to do things.
We will have ‘shift’ agents, people who will help make
the shift to NGD in all the areas and the bases to help
people through that process – no-one will be left alone
to work it out for themselves.”
Peter says while NGD is a key priority for CIOG, another
important “next generation” project under way is
updating the Defence ICT strategy.
“We have embarked on a journey to refresh the ICT
strategy,” he says. “The ’09 strategy set us on a journey
about really fixing the broken backbone of Defence’s
[ICT network], which was around remediating the
core infrastructure that we run – the voice and data
networks, the desktops, where we compute.
“With the next generation strategy we have started
working on, there are some early themes emerging
around the complexity of the applications we run in De-
fence and really having to look at how we simplify that.
“We have to get a better handle on all that digital
information – where we’re storing it, where we’re
processing it and what some of the skills and
capabilities we need to develop to enable Defence to
be more effective and efficient in its use of IT.”
By Simone Liebelt
After a year as Chief Information Officer, Dr Peter Lawrence says there are many
challenges and changes ahead for the complex Defence ICT environment
Focusing on the next
Issue 1 2014
Peter says the
“probably as big as
any in this country
in terms of the scale
of the networks and
the scale of the
together and make
sure it works on a
24/7 basis,” he says.
“We have 116,000
the DRN and the
DSN at the moment,
we have assets in
excess of 140,000
and we’ve got a
environment, so it’s
complicated in scale.”
He says some
elements are “really
quite modern and
such as work being
done with satellites
whereas with some
areas there has been
a lack of investment
over recent years.
“Age and the end
of technology life
cycles adds to the
complexity,” he says.
“When you’re at the
end of technology life
cycles and you’ve got
new technologies, the
two don’t necessarily
“We’ve really just got
to try and mature how
we do some of these
things so we’ve got
that better repeatability
and reliability within
Chief Information Officer Dr Peter Lawrence
reflects on his first year in the job.
Photo: Lauren Larking
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