Defence bets on Wintel mainframe killer

The Australian militiary's Defence Computing Bureau (DCB) has commissioned an Intel-based SMP machine to provide HR self-service capabilities for up to 100,000 personnel.

Since the implementation of PeopleSoft 7 in 2001, Defence has embarked on a mission to move manual processing of leave applications and entitlements from paper to the Web. More recently, the PMKeyS Self Service project, which uses PeopleSoft 8 portal technology, was re-hosted on an Intel-based Unisys ES7000 200 system running Windows Server.

By mid-2004, about 50,000 Defence Force personnel were accessing the new system.

The DCB's director of open systems, who requested anonymity, said it is rare for "Wintel" systems to have mainframe-style disciplines, but the ES7000 was the only such hardware platform that provided the "scalability and availability."

"The bureau wanted to leverage its many years experience in mainframe technologies and apply it to the Wintel server environment," he said.

According to the DCB, the increasing proliferation of commodity servers linked to its mainframe resulted in an inefficient system so the bureau changed its strategy of adding increasing numbers of basic servers accessing multiple CPUs to a more scalable, SMP environment.

Touted as a mainframe-class system engineered with industry-standard technologies, Unisys claims the ES7000 delivers 99.996 percent availability - a requirement for Defence IT.

Defence personnel can now view and update their details via PMKeyS from any location within Australia or around the world - including ships and conflict zones - from a Web browser. In the future, personnel will also be able to use the system to control which bank account payments are made into.

Peter Lush, director general of personnel systems at the Defence Personnel Executive in Canberra, said the new system is boosting morale and feedback is "110 per cent positive".

The bureau is now looking to expand the use of the system, including hosting an enterprise data warehouse alongside PeopleSoft for analysis.

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