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Australia rolls out Thales desktop system

  |   Nov. 15, 2012 at 12:03 AM
CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Australia's Department of Defense is aiming to roll out a streamlined desktop computer system from main contractor Thales after recent completion of a pilot project.

Thales Australia said the Defense Department gave second pass approval to the Next Generation Desktop program.

The pilot project involved more than 700 defense users in Australia using the secure desktop computer system that is simpler to use and less expensive to maintain than current systems, Thales said.

Instead of multiple terminals for different networks, a user has one workspace with one computer, one keyboard, one screen and one mouse.

Thales said its server-based system allows simultaneous access to the Defense Restricted Network and Defense Secret Network on the same screen.

Thales Australia Chief Executive Officer Chris Jenkins said the company has been working closely with the Defense Department's Chief Information Officer Group as well as end users and other private sector partners, including Raytheon Trusted Computer Solutions, Microsoft and Citrix Systems, a provider of desktop virtualizations, software-as-a-service and cloud computing technologies.

"In its full implementation, NGD will use thin-client technology to replace traditional desktops, which will substantially reduce hardware, power and sustainment costs for Defense," the Thales Australia statement said.

The pilot program cost around $6.2 million, a report by ITNews, an Australian business news website said in July.

Implementation of the system is expected to start early next year for completion of the rollout by mid 2014.

The NGD project came from a 2009 Information and Communication Technology strategy report that said defense personnel needed easier access restricted and secret networks.

ITNews said Defense's Assistant Secretary of Infrastructure Architecture Daniel McCabe said the project has been taking longer than expected because of a lengthy tendering process.

Some delay was due to unexpected challenges in running a number of applications on Windows 7 instead of Windows XP.

Around 10 percent of Defense's 50 pilot applications needed to be reconfigured to run in the NGD environment, including an SAP finance system.

Also, trial participants wanted more training in the use of Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, prompting Defense to introduce more help desk staff and develop lists of "handy hints."

Earlier this month, Thales Australia and Raytheon Trusted Computer Solutions hosted an NGD product briefing at the Military Communications and Information Systems Conference in Canberra.

Thales Australia employs around 3,300 people at 35 sites across the country and had more than $960 million in revenue last year.

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