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Common Operating Environment coming to an agency near you!

by Staff Writers •
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The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) within the Department of Finance and Deregulation has released a policy discussion paper on the creation of a common operating environment COE) to apply across the Federal Government.

Established as a result of Recommendation 2 of the Desktop Scoping Study, the COE is intended to drive savings and increase government flexibility and responsiveness. 

The release of the draft COE policy document follows the approval of the companion ICT Customisation and Bespoke Development Policy by the Secretaries ICT Governance Board in October 2009.

The intention of the COE is to standardize and decrease the number of desktop operating environments to be supported across government.  According to the document, in June 2010 there were a ‘minimum of 186 separate Standard Operating Environment (SOE) images built with different components, standards and technologies’ in place across the Federal Government.

The goals of the policy also include a common security configuration across agencies and improved agency ability to share services and applications.

It is also intended that the COE will simplify the process of updating systems, allowing agencies to respond to changing technologies at a faster pace.

In keeping with the AGIMO’s commitment to e-government, the draft COE paper was published on the AGIMO blog, and followers were notified of its release via John Sheridan’s Twitter page.

Elements of the discussion paper which may draw feedback include the:

  • proposed standards for the COE;
  • requirement to use the current supported version of applications or its immediate predecessor;
  • possible use of virtualisation to support legacy applications; and
  • the appropriateness of an annual review cycle.

Associated with the COE, is the notion of reducing as much as possible the number of Standard Operating Environments (SOE), so as to reduce the cost of SOE development and maintenance. 

Under the draft policy, a COE may be supported by multiple SOEs.  A SOE will be comprised of:

  • an operating system;
  • core services;
  • a standard application set;
  • a defined security configuration; and
  • a defined user configuration. 

Under the draft policy, agency-specific applications which are used to deliver specific business outcomes will not be considered part of the COE.

It is also intended that standards will be reviewed annually, and agencies will be able to submit requests for change in July of each year, with accepted changes to be implemented the following December.

Agencies will be expected to begin their compliance with the COE standards at the time of their next fleet refresh, if not sooner.

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