The department of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) has become an early adopter of Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS), deploying it as part of its Hasard (health and safety accident recording database) system.
MTS, which combines a transaction processing monitor, object request broker and application-development environment, is a key part of Microsoft's bid to take on Unix systems at high-end computing.
OSH IT manager Claire Livesey says she was aware of the risks of adopting new technology and had developers KB Group build a prototype before choosing MTS. She was further reassured by the fact that Microsoft recently brought out version 2.0 of MTS.
Hasard is accessed by 180 users at 18 branches throughout the country, so performance and bandwidth are major issues, she says. With a 16Kbit/s frame-relay connection, OSH didn't have a lot of bandwidth to work with.
Scalability was also a concern as Microsoft technology has traditionally been used in small to midrange workgroups.
For Hasard, Wellington systems developers KB Group wrote a test application trialling 100 users running 100 transactions simultaneously.
KB Group managing director Richard Blair says this addressed scalability and revealed potential bottlenecks. "From that we did some database tuning and rewrote parts of the logic to take into account bottlenecks," he says.
Livesey says in a bid to minimise traffic OSH chose a three-tier model — database, middleware and client — for its systems architecture.
Implementation started in July with the transfer of 1.5 million records from a mainframe system written in Adabas Natural into a Microsoft SQL Server database.
Hasard has the database layer in Wellington, business rules kept in MTS on a server in Wellington and also on branch servers, and Visual Basic clients. Business rules are located in the middle layer to provide central control but are also held on branch servers so that branch clients can avoid going over the WAN most of the time.