Defence has 200 Australian ‘datacentres’



blog It’s a common phenomenon within Australian government departments and other large organisations such as banks to have a legacy of back-room ‘datacentres’ (and I use the term very loosely) scattered around the nation and internationally. You know the sort of thing I’m talking about; closets in the back of the office with a file and print server; a few old SPARC machines in the basement of a small office block; and even the odd machine under a desk or two. The NSW Government has recently ‘fessed up to the problem, and even major banks such as NAB have admitted recently that the phenomenon is active within its operations. But a new revelation by the Department of Defence this week, as it gets ready to changeover its massive centralised processing contract, shows that some departments just have more legacy than others. ZDNet reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“As part of the department’s AU$1.9 billion IT reform, it is moving to consolidate its data-processing facilities from over 200 datacentres across Australia to fewer than 10 locally and three globally … Through centralisation of data processing, [Defence CIO Peter Lawrence] said that the Department of Defence will have better data security through only having to secure eight locations rather than 280”

Now, I have to say that we put a lot of stock in the previous Department of Defence chief information officer Greg Farr, and his ability to reform the department’s IT operations. There’s no doubt that Farr was able to drastically reduce the number of front-line IT problems which Defence has been suffering over the years. However, we have to say that this appears to be one area which Farr unfortunately left alone. 280 server locations around Australia? In an era where centralised computing is more and more the norm and where Defence spends big dollars on quality telecommunications? And in the era of great cloud computing solutions? That’s just incredible. Here’s hoping that Defence spends a lot of time rationalising this situation over the next few years.

Image credit: Jorge Vicente, royalty free


  1. If they simply hooked all 280 locations into one decentralised cluster. They would have their own private ‘cloud’, wouldn’t they?

  2. I think you will find that defence has been planning this for some time and that this is just a continuation of that process.

  3. Seems that centralising your military data processing is basically painting a target over your head. I mean, I know that all military equipment is a target, and yes I do understand that we spend a lot more of our time meddling in other people’s countries than they spend meddling in ours… but just on the off chance that our Defence department ended up in a defensive role, I think distributed data is stronger. More defensive that is.

    • I think you are confusing accident with design. You don’t get to 280 datacentres through strategic planning. Most commercial operations have 2 at most. 10 properly distributed datacentres sounds like plenty to me (BWWIK?)

  4. That’s 280 sites the enemy has to bomb to knock out our computer defense systems – lets put all our military Data Centres together, it worked for the Yanks at Peal Harbor

  5. Well there was a project back in 2005 to consolidate centres into a small number of 8-9 locations.

    There is a valid reason why there are so many. It centres around diversified management and remote locations. If your in Tindall (Katherine NT) so you want all your log ons and files located in Darwin or Adelaide when a natural disaster might take out all the comms even diversified routes

    Makes it very very hard to justify when such a loss may pit at risk operations of No75 squadron as an example.

    Defence is not the same as a commercial org where they may simple upset customers or lose money. Defence operations take a higher level and it really means no outages are acceptable

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