Health department dumps 3Com in NIC switch

The Department of Health and Aged Care dumped its 3Com NICs (network interface cards) late last year in an $80,000 NIC reshuffle.

Trevor Brown, the department's assistant director of communications, said it installed around 50 of Olicom's OC/3 155Mbit/sec dual NICs after the 3Com cards failed to perform.

"We did have some difficulties with the 3Com drivers," Brown said.

The new NIC's contribute to the network's ability to provide users with full redundancy, he said. "There is a redundant link everywhere."

The new NIC installation follows the department's $7.5 million investment in 3Com switches in early 1998, dumping old Cisco routers and Synoptics hubs.

"We didn't want to use routers because it's old technology," Brown said, adding that the switches offer a more flexible, faster alternative.

The department previously ran an FDDI ring network with shared hubs.

Brown said the move to install 3Com Corebuilder 7000 and Pathbuilder switches is designed to cater for the extra bandwidth requirements needed to support its Lotus Notes and "parliamentary workflow" system recently installed by BHP IT.

The department uses Optus' Multinet ATM network to carry its traffic. "We call it an extended campus," Brown said.

As a result, the department is now achieving speeds of at least 2Mbit/sec "anywhere in the network", he said.

An additional benefit of the new network is the ability to maintain effective remote management. Brown said the government's "complete outsourcing policy" has centralised the department's estimated 80 IT staff in Canberra, from where they manage the entire network.

He said he is pleased with the Olicom NICs as they provide good remote moni-toring functions via a Web browser.

The department's 4500 staff are spread across five main campuses in Canberra, in addition to offices in all the state capitals and some regional centres.

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