NZ Defence Force targets hybrid cloud in $118 million bid

NZ Defence Force targets hybrid cloud in $118 million bid

Project revealed in budget documents appears to be the product of the mysterious "XIE platform" trial

Credit: NZ Defence Force

The big-ticket item in New Zealand Defence Force's 2020/2021 Budget bid is a drive into the cloud to the value of $118.3 million.

That will be backed by an enterprise connectivity project priced at $64.3 million and scheduled for completion in mid to late 2021.

However, both projects and several other smaller ones revealed in the NZDF documents prepared  for the 2020/2021 Budget are subject to approval.

"The NZDF is currently prioritising projects for 2020/21 which process should be completed and ratified by the relevant governance board in mid-to-late June 2020," the document reported.

The list of initiatives planned for delivery is also subject to a prioritisation process. 

"Until the priorities and schedules have been set, the NZDF is unable to advise key milestones, risks and benefits associated," it said.

The enterprise cloud project appears to be a product of, or at least informed by, a mysterious cloud proof of concept trial undertaken in 2018 called the "XIE platform" and involving Microsoft and Datacom.

After initially refusing to answer Reseller News' questions about the project due to "sensitivities", an official information request revealed the project aimed to build a new hybrid enterprise platform to supply technical services across hosted systems, private cloud and public cloud.

The XIE platform would also facilitate plans to strengthen the organisation's cyber resilience, NZDF said.

The organisation described the project as a natural consequence of tracking the lifecycle of the force's existing IT environment and seeking to "leverage the benefit of emerging technology".

Tender documents revealed the heart of the platform would be a software-defined datacentre, with compute, storage and network virtualisation, though it was noted that storage would be less elastic than the other two.

Multi-tenant capability is also required to allow, for example, NZDF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to use the same services.

Most people working on the project were required to have a secret-level security clearance as a minimum.

Other disclosure reveal Microsoft was involved in the proof of concept, providing: "services to change transformation project XIE proof of concept [PoC] for public and private cloud platforms. Azure/Azure stack PoC services and architecture oversight and governance services including an education stream and designated support engineering."

Datacom was involved  in the "purchase and oversight of NZDF's consumption of public cloud services to meet proof of concept outcomes".

Talent International delivered a project manager for XIE which was described as a Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack solution hybrid cloud concept.

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