Opposition mounts to Sydney Airport deal

Sydney Airport's hotly contested networking deal is wading further into controversy after two key vendors sent the corporation "please explain" letters this week.

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 network traffic needs. Sydney Airport Corporation Limited (SACL) awarded the deal to partners Cisco and Memorex Telex late last week, according to documents obtained by Computerworld.

SACL's new backbone network will consolidate disparate IT systems at the airport, such as flight information displays, baggage and gate controls and the security systems.

However, Fore Systems and Xylan officials yesterday confirmed the companies are contesting the decision, reporting they believe the joint Cisco and Memorex Telex deal is contrary to the strict tender process set by Sydney Airport.

Repeated industry rumours suggest Cisco was allowed a second opportunity to pitch during the bidding process, an opportunity not offered to either Xylan or Fore.

Grant Morrison, Fore Systems Australia and New Zealand general manager, challenged SACL 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.

Morrison said 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.

Meanwhile, sources claim Cisco won the deal based on its forth-coming 8540 series routers, not expected to be available until at least March or April. "It's a future sell," the source commented.

Cisco executives refused to comment on the deal despite repeated attempts. A SACL spokesperson said today the corporation will issue a statement early next week to announce the successful tenderer and address specific issues raised by Computerworld.

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More about Fore SystemsMemorexMemorex TelexPraxaSecurity SystemsSydney Airport CorporationUnisys AustraliaXylan

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