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Foreign Affairs upgrades communications

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is in the process of refreshing its technology and upgrading communication between local and international missions. 

Datacentrix has been awarded the implementation of hardware infrastructure for the department's international UKUSA project, comprising the installation of an advanced technology server hardware and storage solution in more than 84 countries worldwide including the UK, Singapore, Brazil, Austria, the USA, South Africa and other SADEC countries.
The main objective of the Department’s UKUSA project is to upgrade from NT to Microsoft 2003, recharge its entire IT infrastructure and enable ease of globalisation.
The initial primary deployment phase preparations focused only on the South African needs and included Botswana, Mozambique and Washington as pilot projects. This primary phase included the installation of the HP hardware (servers and storage devices) supplied by Datacentrix, at the eight of the Department of Foreign Affairs offices based in South Africa, including the Union Building, Pretoria and Cape Town offices.
The secondary deployment phase takes the initial phase internationally to other parts of the world where the Department of Foreign Affairs has already established a presence, and will also involve the addition of 21 new mission sites which were not part of the original project.
According to Lillian Phahla, acting CIO at the DFA, the purpose of the project was for the Department to refresh its technology as well as upgrade communication between local and international missions. Previously they used fax lines, telexes and had very limited excess to e-mail.
"We needed a reliable, easily manageable and disaster tolerant environment that could support our converged environment.
"Foreign Affairs laid out a number of objectives to be met prior to embarking on the project. These included the provision of a global centrally managed solution that adheres to governance, the alignment of the project with the overall programme and related projects and that training will be provided by the end of this project in order to skill up DFA staff sufficiently."
According to Phahla, the department intends to achieve the above benefits in a more cost effective solution in terms of support and ability to achieve a disaster tolerant environment.