Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thin Client and Application Virtualisation at Defence

The Australian Defence Department will proceed with its Next Generation Desktop Project, using thin client computers and application virtualisation ("Next generation desktop for Defence", Warren Snowdon, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, MIN55/11, 6 May 2011). While this will deliver benefits, such as energy and cost savings, it is a difficult to implement in a security sensitive environment requiring reliable 24 operations. The system has to allow access to data at different security levels via shared hardware. Also there has to be some provision for operating when the central server fails, or links are cut. Military operations cannot be simply positioned due to computer failure.

When Defence CTO Matt Yannopoulous mentioned thin clients in his talk to the ACS Canberra branch in early 2010, I was sceptical. When working in HQ ADF I recommended the use of Austrlaian made thin client computers, but these never became popular. However, the web, the Internet, standardised data formats, more powerful hardware and virtualised operating systems have all made this much easier.

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