Incis withdrawal leaves security gaps

IBM's exit from the Incis project has left the half-completed police information system short on security and skills, according to a State Services Commission report released last week.

IBM's exit from the Incis project has left the half-completed police information system short on security and skills, according to a State Services Commission report released last week.

Incis relied for security on a component of OS/2 called Directory Security Services (DSS).

IBM is continuing to support this, on a temporary basis from the US - for $115,000 a month.

However DSS has proved to be unreliable and has "caused significant problems during one prolonged outage", the report says.

"Police do not have a complete view of what happened, how it was fixed and whether, or when, it is likely to happen again."

Moreover, the remaining part of Incis, which the police are using despite the report's conclusion that it is little better than the existing system based on the old Wanganui Computer, has no disaster recovery plan.

"This matter is now unresolved with the end of the Incis contract," the report says.

The existing system, called LES, is also without a disaster recovery plan - because it was to have been replaced by Incis this was not seen as a priority, the report says.

However LES is working "at high capacity" because as well as the additional police work it is also being used by the Department of Courts and for traffic enforcement.

LES is also "poorly structured" and is a legacy system with applications that are quite different from current relational databases, the report says.

What it does recommend is a data warehouse solution, called Enterprise Information Store (EIS), which will collect information not only intended for Incis but also from the Police Card system, the existing LES system and Land Transport Safety Authority data.

Sounding like an Incis by another name, EIS will store all relevant information and be accessed with a single interface to each application.

"The Internet demonstrates the huge amount of information that is available through an individual PC," the report says.

"Thus it is not beyond the scope of an organisation to manage its information needs in a similar manner."

In releasing the report State Services Minister Trevor Mallard said there had been two problems with Incis - it had been a "big bang" solution rather than taking an incremental approach, and it had locked Police into a narrow technology path.

Several specific decisions were announced last week:

E The OS/2 operating system is to be dumped as soon as is practicable, and replaced with Microsoft NT.

E The ongoing use of Lotus Notes as an email client - for which Police are paying IBM an ongoing lease - is to be reviewed.

E Police management are to develop a technical and applications architecture, to be coordinated with the police business plan.

The clean up after Incis means the police will be hiring more IT professionals, Police director of information and technology Jeffrey Soar says.

Most of the technical staff working on Incis were IBM people.

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