CSIRO dumps decade-old kit in long-awaited refresh

Undertaking its first hardware upgrade in nearly a decade, the CSIRO has begun scoping for a long-awaited desktop refresh which will cover more than 10,000 computers.

As part of the massive project, the science agency is looking to consolidate more than 1000 servers covering 60 sites across Australia.

It is the first time in nine years the CSIRO has gone to market for a hardware refresh, so the focus will be on innovation especially when it comes to managing servers and desktops. The organization is scoping for the kind of IT kit that simply wasn't around nine years ago and expects to achieve significant operational cost savings as a result.

Only two years ago the CSIRO had 20 separate IT shops. Now the Information and Technology Group within the organization is the single point of contact for all tech operations.

The CSIRO has a mixed environment and Mark Hipworth, executive manager of service delivery in CSIRO's IM&T, said multiple operating systems create an overhead in terms of patching and security.

Admitting the agency has "created a rod for its own back" by having so many systems, Hipworth said the CSIRO still wants the same level of flexibility that it would have with fewer operating environments.

"We are open to all the models of desktops and servers available; we are basically just interested in what the market has to offer. This includes features such as server virtualization, an innovative technology that wasn't around nine years ago," Hipworth said.

"We are looking to consolidate 1000 servers and 10,000-plus desktops around the organization and are currently looking at options. There are a significant number of dependencies on projects, but the end of this financial year will see us make significant inroads into implementing the necessary foundations for these projects."

Although the CSIRO plans to simplify its computing environment, Hipworth said the agency still needs various flavours of Linux and open source.

Hipworth also has a number of network infrastructure projects under way and recently purchased three of Hitachi Data Systems' one-petabyte storage systems, which are about to be implemented in NSW, ACT and Victoria.