National Museum of Australia adopting iPads for exhibitions

Will refresh 325 desktops and laptops, decides against virtual desktops and thin clients

The National Museum of Australia is considering broadening the use of iPads to deliver greater multimedia and interactive content with its exhibitions.

According to the museum’s manager, information technology and services, Chris Gill, the organisation is already trialling the use of iPads in areas responsible for exhibitions and now intends to use the tablet PCs for its forthcoming The Irish in Australia offering in March.

“It’s within the culture of the organisation to use technology as best it can,” Gill told Computerworld Australia.

“The museum already uses fairly high-tech multimedia to tell the personal stories of various Australians. We have a Canning Stock Route open which has very impressive interactive exhibitions.”

In addition, the museum is examining the deployment of a museum-wide high-speed wireless network in the next 12 to 24 months to facilitate the delivery of high-end multimedia services.

“We have already [implemented wireless networking] in our exhibition storage location, which is a different building altogether,” Gill said. “It’ll not just be for staff or work purposes, but for our exhibitions in the museum itself.”

In addition to enhancing its customer experience, the organisation has just commenced a major PC refresh replacing some 325 Dell XP desktops and laptops in favour of HP Windows 7 kit.

“Procuring the equipment is all done through the whole-of-government desktop arrangement that’s just been implemented by AGIMO and we are utilising our IT service partner (ASG Group),” he said.

According to Gill, the decision to move to HP was due to restrictions under AGIMO’s panel rather than any shortcomings from Dell.

“We want to future proof our desktop and with the whole-of-government arrangement you have to buy what they offer, so we went with the power PC option and the only choice was the HP equipment,” Gill said.

The museum did consider a move to virtual desktops instead of thick clients, but in the end decided that the technology was still immature.

“We still feel that in cost-effectiveness, desktop virtualisation isn’t there yet and we had a few concerns…but as time goes on and desktop virtualisation matures, we’ll certainly be exploring it,” Gill said.

While desktop virtualisation was not on the agenda, application virtualisation — largely for the organisations legacy building security software — would feature as part of the desktop refresh exercise.

“The age of some of our applications mean we have some concerns about their ability to run in a Windows 7 environment so we are looking to address that through Citrix,” Gill said.

“It’s also a means of minimising the footprint on the desktops.”

The museum is already a user of VMware’s server virtualisation, which the organisation switched to in 2006 to create a high availability cluster and enabled the creation of a disaster recovery site.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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