Cenitex on track to complete ‘Program Fortify’ by end of year

Cenitex expects to complete by the end of the year its most ambitious technology overhaul since the Victorian government shared services agency was established in 2008.

Cenitex and VMware today released details of the work on Program Fortify, which was established in the 2017-18 financial year. The shared services agency brought it forward following what Cenitex CEO Michael Vanderheide has previously described as a “small number of serious service outages” during that year mdash; including in November 2017 repeated lightning strikes on a Burwood data centre that caused an 11-second power outage.

In the aftermath Cenitex was left addressing what it said was an “an unprecedented number of system and services disruptions”. An independent review found that the agency and its customers’ IT teams had gone “above and beyond” to restore services in a timely fashion, although it said the incident highlighted the need for additional processes to deal with such extraordinary events.

More than $30 million has been invested in the two-year transformation program, which Cenitex says has four streams: Digital Workplace, Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC), Software Defined Network (SDN) and Smart Internet Gateway.

Cenitex in its annual report described the first stream as an effort to deliver “secure, ubiquitous access anytime, anywhere and anyway to office productivity tools and business applications at a lower cost than the current desktop service”.

VMware said that the shared services agency was rolling out virtual desktop infrastructure underpinned by the vendor’s Horizon and Workspace ONE. The new Digital Workplace is expected to be available to government agencies in July.

The underlying SDDC component of the program uses VMware Validated Design for SDDC, with vSphere and vSAN storage. Cenitex is also using VMware Cloud on AWS to reduce its data centre footprint and implementing the company’s vRealize Automation. The agency has previously said it aimed to refresh “critical hosting infrastructure to increase the reliability and resilience and enable effortless disaster recovery capability between on-premise data centres and the cloud”.

Cenitex is also using VMware’s NSX network virtualization platform.

“Our customers want us to be responsive, resilient and cost effective to meet their changing needs. They expect technological innovation that will provide them with reliable, accessible services well into the future,” Vanderheide said in a statement.

“The work with VMware has helped us reach a critical turning point in our digital transformation journey. We can now provide mission-critical services more efficiently to our government customers which service the people of Victoria. At the completion of this project, we will be delivering a truly digital government experience that positions us as an agency leading the way not just in Australia, but globally.”

As a result of the investment required for Program Fortify, Cenitex in its 2017-18 annual report indicated it expected two years of deficits before returning to surplus in 2020-21.

Earlier this year, Vanderheide revealed he intends to depart Cenitex, after more than seven years as the agency’s chief executive. The Cenitex board sought to have the CEO stay on board after his contract expires at the end of June, but in a memo to staff Vanderheide said he had decided it was time for “someone new to take the reins”.

Vanderheide has been credited with helping deliver a turnaround at the shared services organisation, going from significant losses to successive surpluses.

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