SA library system gets $3.6m overhaul

The State Library of South Australia is replacing its legacy information systems infrastructure in a $3.6 million project.

The library's ICT project manager, Lesley Sharp, said the existing hardware "has reached the end of its support life" and an opportunity to renew the IT systems was taken as part of a building redevelopment. The project also aimed to unify the library's hardware and software platforms.

"Our current server environment comprises of a HP 9000 running HP-UX 10.2 which is being used as a Web server, a Compaq AlphaServer 300 running the library's Innopac management system, and a Compaq NT server for our reference query tracking system," Sharp said. "A Compaq Novell server is also used for in-house file and print requirements."

The primary servers will be replaced with three SunFire 280R systems running Solaris. "One machine will support the library management system, replacing the AlphaServer; one will be dedicated as a development and testing environment; and one will replace the HP 9000," Sharp said. As well as the Sun systems, a new Novell file and print server would be implemented, along with individual servers for applications, SQL and testing.

"The new equipment is being progressively installed and will be fully commissioned" operations start in February 2003, Sharp said.

She said changing business and technology requirements were the impetus for such a major project. "The library faces particular challenges in ensuring a comprehensive infrastructure that provides for the business requirements of the organisation at the same time providing services to the public which are increasingly in digital form. Nowadays, for example, many resources are completely electronic with no paper equivalent. This raises issues such as security, authentication and both short- and long-term storage."

Sharp also cited the library's statutory obligation to provide access to South Australia's heritage material, as well as other services - such as free Internet access - among the requirements for change. "The number of computers available to the public will more than triple to around 80 in the new building and we are also exploring the extent to which we will provide wireless access to the Internet. Security issues associated with public access are being reviewed."

After considering both a relational database management system and a native XML repository, the decision was made to proceed with an XML-based content management system for the library's data.

"The largely non-changing and text based nature of most of our content led us to the conclusion that storing content natively in XML would offer the library considerable flexibility in addressing future requirements," Sharp said. "As a result we will store the content once and use it for Web sites, exhibitions, subject guides, marketing material, mobile devices and so on."

She said existing in-house Web development skills would be applied to the new content management system, which, once enabled, would allow Web publishing by multiple areas within the library.

Software AG's Tamino XML Server would provide the native XML repository on one of the SunFire 280R servers and the Unity content management system would augment Tamino by providing authoring and workflow components.

"Over time our content management requirements may become more sophisticated, but by having the data already stored in XML, we hope to avoid complicated data migration projects," Sharp said.

The storage requirements will be distributed between IBM NAS devices for high resolution images, a Sun A1000 disk array for the Tamino server and a Sun L9 tape backup system.

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