25 Q&As: Battling adversaries and rotating out

As part of Computerworld's silver anniversary celebrations 25 IT managers recall the ups and downs of their careers. Here, Stuart Crome, deputy director security services, Defence Cryptographic Controlling Authority, Department of Defence, shares his experiences with Sandra Rossi.

What IT technology is key and how do you want it to develop?

I think wireless communications can offer some great flexibility for military. I would like to see it developed to where we could employ wireless communications in a tactical field environment and be able to pass a range of sensitive command and control information.

What IT technologies have brought the most significant benefits?

Advances in processing power allow desktop CPUs to complete functions that 15 years ago would have taxed most supercomputers.

What has been the most challenging IT project of your career?

My current position will prove to be one of my greatest challenges. Developing and maintaining a computer network defence capability in the Australian Defence Force over such a large and complex information environment would challenge most people.

What has been most disappointing for you during your IT career?

At a macro level I’d say too many short-lived companies or technologies. It makes it difficult to develop technical solutions if you are unsure whether the company or technology will be around in three or four years.

What has been your most exciting IT experience?

The development and implementation of a core IT infrastructure for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO, peace keeping force headquartered in Rome). We were working across three countries (Egypt, Israel and Italy), with 15 nationalities of users, restricted funds and complex business processes. When I rotated out we had laid the foundations for a WAN using frame relay and VoIP. We had increased services, improvedd the quality of communications and reduced annual operating costs.

What tertiary qualifications do you have?

M Inf Sci (UNSW), MBA (USQ), Grad Dip Bus Admin (QUT), Grad Dip Management Studies, Grad Dip CIS Management.

When did you start in IT and what job did you have before you moved into IT? My first pure IT position was the chief of information systems in Rome, Italy with the MFO, in late 1997. Before that, I had varying levels of exposure to IT; however, I worked mainly with the communications aspects of being a Royal Australian Signals Corps officer within various military units.

What was the first computer technology you used (and when)?

In my youth I can remember playing with the VIC 20 computer (later surpassed by the Commodore 64).

What is the scariest thing looking forward in your IT career?

When the day arrives that my two- and four-year-olds turn around and start teaching me things.

Fast facts: Employees: 80,000. IT users: 80,000. Key applications: All standard Defence business applications. Within our gateway environment we use a range of high-end accredited systems employed by many large organisations. Key infrastructure — hardware: Primarily Unix/Sun boxes for services, Unix/Sun/Intel platforms for management; operating systems: Unix, Win NT.

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