It’s not often that IT managers get the chance to experience the challenges of technology in times of conflict, and Defence Department information chief Ron Hooton is making the most of it.
Hooton is off to East Timor and can’t wait to experience life in the trenches first-hand.
The former Countrywide Bank IT manager became the 15,000-strong NZDF’s first CIO in September, taking on responsibility across the army, navy and airforce.
He will spend about two weeks with peacekeeping forces in East Timor and also visit Darwin, finding out how the operation works and learning about the associated IT issues. He will look at both military applications and IT infrastructure. “We have LANs up there and satellite communications but going into the field is totally unlike any other industry such as banking,” he says. “I’m very excited.”
He says mobility is a huge issue although often troops have to work with bandwidth down to 9.6kbit/s or 2.4kbit/s.
Hooton doesn’t think standardisation of technology across all services is logical from a military perspective although there are areas where it will apply from a business sense. “For example all three services, the army, navy and airforce, are quite SAP-centric,” he says.