Scott Base set to get a systems upgrade

Broadband woes surface in Antarctica too

Computer providers with Antarctic support capabilities should be a shoe-in for a contract to upgrade server and desktop hardware at Scott Base and the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch.

New Zealand’s most southerly IT shop is looking to reduce its ecological impact as part of the tender.

“We are seeking to reduce our ecological footprint at both our offices, so we are interested in minimising power consumption and other negative environmental effects of hardware procured under this RFP,” the tender documents say.

Desktops, laptops and some of the current servers, were last replaced in 2002. Antarctica New Zealand now plans to replace or upgrade desktop hardware on a four-year cycle. Servers and laptops will be replaced as business requirements dictate.

According to the documents, Scott Base has a core summer season staff of 32 and provides accommodation for 85. It also supports remote field camps. During a typical summer season, between October and February, around 400 people pass through the station. Between 10 and 20 people “winter over” at the station.

The tender also reveals that New Zealand’s broadband woes are not restricted to the mainland islands, with connectivity to the base barely above dial-up speeds. The documents say Scott Base and the Christchurch office are linked via a frame relay satellite data link from Telecom.

“This connection can vary from 64kbit/s during winter (March to September) to 128kbit/s during summer (October to February). The restriction on the data link speed is largely financial.

“A 2 Mbit/s ADSL link also provides local connectivity between Scott Base and the nearby United States’ McMurdo Station 3km away.”

Staff on the base do not have access to the internet due to cost issues, but a “user pays” access system is noted as an option.

Servers, including an application server, are to be delivered to the base in August.

The application server will run Sophos security software and network management software.

Also flagged in the tender is an upgrade to Exchange 2003, Office 2007, VMware virtualisation, Navision software and Sharepoint 2007.

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Tags antarctica scott base servers desktops

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