Microsoft’s Azure to underpin mammoth ASIO IT transformation

Intelligence agency in near-wholesale cloud shift

Australia domestic intelligence agency is preparing to use a mixture of on-premises and externally hosted cloud infrastructure to underpin a greenfields enterprise technology platform (ETP), as a part of a broader transformation program.

ASIO has begun seeking expressions of interest from systems integrators for six separate packages of work covering infrastructure and common services, data and analytics, a digital UX platform, applications, a cross-domain solution for managing data access and transfer between different levels of information classification, and running the new enterprise technology platform

Microsoft Azure will be the key infrastructure platform, with VMware to be used when cloud is not appropriate.

ASIO will have three distinct Azure-based platforms to deal with different levels of classified data. An externally hosted Microsoft Azure platform will handle information classified at the PROTECTED level.

An externally hosted or on-premises Azure SECRET platform that is either delivered as a managed service or has separate components delivered as managed services, and an on-premises TOP SECRET platform similarly delivered entirely as a managed service or with components delivered as managed services, comprises the other two levels of cloud.

The Azure-driven ETP will “provide common infrastructure such as desktop, storage, compute, network, common services and a consumption-based approach to provisioning commodity products,” a document released by the intelligence agency states.

“Users will have a single logon with fewer system touchpoints, and access to toolsets that enhance their ability to collaborate with partners at machine speed and at scale.”

The ETP work package covers a range of common services include identity and access management, operation and maintenance systems, and “services enabling event driven orchestration (for example, if a developer executes a process that requires additional infrastructure, it will be configured automatically).”

The ‘Core Data Platform’ (CDP) will run on top of the ETP and “provide the foundation for advanced data management and analytics capabilities” across the agency.

“The CDP will enable staff across the enterprise to access a greater breadth of data that has been extracted, enriched and correlated. Functionalities included in the CDP will include data ingestion and processing, data storage and data access, security and audit and query capabilities.”

The digital UX platform will allow ASIO employees to access customised views of insights delivered courtesy of the CDP.

Applications to be delivered as part of the broader transformation program include analytics, enterprise resource planning (ERP), business process management, collaboration and “custom or migrated applications,” with ASIO expressing a preferences for commercial off the shelf (COTS) software where possible.

As part of the federal budget, an additional $58.6 million was earmarked for ASIO 2019-20 “to sustain current operations and undertake preliminary work to further enhance its future operations.”

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