Flak set to fly over airport deal

Sydney Airport is understood to have awarded Cisco and Memorex Telex Australia's highest-profile networking deal.

The backbone network upgrade, dubbed Sydney Airport 2000, is estimated to be worth around $3 million and is designed to cater for the airport's Y2K and Sydney 2000 Olympics needs, Computerworld sources report.

However, Grant Morrison, Fore Systems Australia and New Zealand general manager, told Computerworld he understands independent network consultants Praxa initially recommended Fore and its partner Unisys for the deal.

Morrison said Praxa reportedly decided the Fore/Unisys bid was the best fit for the strict technical and support requirements outlined in the bid specifications.

"Praxa's entire reputation is on the line here," Morrison said, reporting it may be forced to project-manage a network it didn't recommend.

Morrison went a step further, challenging Sydney Airport to prove either the Fore or Xylan bid proposal was not the technically best solution.

"We're certainly going to be asking Sydney Airport to provide the information on this," he said.

The new network is designed to consolidate disparate IT systems at the airport, such as flight information displays, baggage and gate controls and the security systems.

Both Fore and Xylan officials called for the whole deal to be re-tendered, indicating the industry is rife with controversial rumours about the bidding process.

In fact, one source alleges the deal is clouded in controversy to the point where the reliability of the network cannot be guaranteed.

The source, who asked not to be named, claimed Cisco won the deal with equipment not yet released or tested.

As a result, he said the interoperability with the Fore (OC/12) network interface cards to be used could not be guaranteed.

"The technical solution is unproven, even on paper," he said. "The most critical part of the network is untested."

Sources report up to 10 companies were invited to tender for the network upgrade, with one vendor reporting the bidding process costing around $150,000 and six months of work.

The Cisco win follows its high profile deal in partnership with Telstra for the $300 million upgrade of Qantas' network last year.

Officials from Sydney Airport Corporation Limited, Praxa, Memorex Telex and Cisco all declined to comment on the deal before the official press release is issued. Initially expected on February 5, the formal announcement was delayed due to the controversy, and it is not known at press time when the formal announcement will be made.

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More about Fore SystemsMemorexMemorex TelexPraxaQantasSecurity SystemsSydney Airport CorporationTelstra CorporationUnisys AustraliaXylan

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