|At first, they may not seem to have much in common: Fishers braving the winds of the Arctic sea, biologists digging up contaminants in the ecosystem, and land-based administrators monitoring Canadas licensing requirements.
Yet they all are caretakers of the sea, an important contribution in a three-ocean nation anchored on its waters for economic and environmental survival. In addition, their cross-coastal sweep of activities whether performed from the rugged mountains bordering the Pacific or on an isolated island in the Arctic north are all inextricably linked to the Compaq OpenVMSTM operating system running on Compaq AlphaServerTM systems.
For decades, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada, headquartered in Ottawa, has relied on the OpenVMS operating system environment from Compaq Canada Corporation. With Oracle as its warehouse database, the system has delivered critical scientific information on everything from local weather and global warming to the diverse habitat and complex food web of the waterways. Weve used OpenVMS since
v1.0 was shipped in 1978, says Paul Hession, CIO, Fisheries and
When the Canadian Coast Guard merged with DFO five years ago, it hauled in its own applications running on a mainframe platform. DFO, which runs Canadas largest civilian fleet with 108 vessels and hundreds of smaller
craft, needed to preserve its science-based investments, and confirmed the Compaq OpenVMS platform was the best common denominator, says Hession. Having OpenVMS greatly facilitated our merger. Furthermore, we were using Oracle Financials and PeopleSoft HRMS for human resources, and both run on the Compaq platform.
Hession is convinced the OpenVMS environment provides the right platform for what this government agency does, namely providing safe waters and aquatic ecosystems. Says Hession: I view Compaq as a trusted IT advisor.
Achieving seamless flow of data
While Internet fishing isnt a recognized phrase, it isnt an oxymoron either. Hession has been involved in a value chain analysis at DFO, attempting to link the value-adding processes of the physical IT world with those of the information and program delivery world.
Examples abound: Those involved with arguably one of the oldest industrial professions, fishing, have come to rely on a much newer industry Internet technology for satellite weather information and aquaculture research. Coast guard officials also capitalize on technology with access to electronic mapping and charting of waterways. (In the year ahead, DFO expects to continue digitizing an inventory of over $20 million worth of paper maps.) In addition, government officials use scientific sampling and forecasting to determine safe fishing limits or quotas so they can regulate licensing terms and conditions.
Over 10,000 employees of DFO link to nearly 700 business applications, connecting science with business, and business with the current and future generations of Canadian citizens. It is a large, complex organization, with one of its biggest challenges the alignment of technology with its various functional processes.
People often operate in silos, says Hession. Its only when you have a reliable common platform like Compaq OpenVMS that you can transfer data through a value chain of business functions in multiple applications with everyone able to talk to everyone else. OpenVMS interoperates with Compaq Tru64TM UNIX and NT without a problem. Im grateful to have Compaq as part of the value chain solution. It makes my job easier.
Getting as wired as its citizens
While many DFO employees spend most of their day interacting with nature, DFO has nonetheless delved into the digital way of conducting business. Every sector at DFO has to rethink its traditional business processes within the context of an e-business strategy. Its a cultural challenge, says Hession, because change is disruptive.
To facilitate the transformation, Hession is setting up workshops so scientists and other professionals can understand how their business applications relate to one another. Compaq OpenVMS AlphaServer systems provide a highly dependable platform for combining all of these applications so they can be used to deliver electronic services in a single channel called Government Online (GOL).
With the assistance of Compaq Global Services, DFO planned, designed and implemented an infrastructure to support the high availability and scalability needed for its GOL initiative. DFO employs production and development OpenVMS clusters on three AlphaServer ES40 (EV67-based) systems integrated with a Compaq Storage Area Network (SAN). When combined with the OpenVMS cluster software, the SAN allows load-balanced, read-write IO requests from multiple systems simultaneously.
The two cluster/SAN operational centers reside in Ottawa, with one at the national headquarters site on Kent Street. Clustering and our Compaq SAN have revolutionized our computing efficiency, boasts Hession. The systems fault tolerance has improved to a level not previously possible. Weve reduced maintenance shutdown time from eight hours every night to four hours once a week.
By providing 24 x 7 access to computing facilities, clustering and the Compaq SAN have also improved the work lives of those whose hours are often not aligned with the business day, or those who work in remote locations. Enhanced throughput allows us to effectively move and exchange very high volumes of data between regional offices and headquarters. Furthermore, our availability ratings are in the high 99.999 percent range.
That availability rating has often provided shelter from threatening events. Hession recalls when the I LOVE YOU virus snagged most of the federal agencies in Canada. In addition to our virus scanning software, comments Hession, the Compaq OpenVMS platform ensured we were back up and running within two hours. Some departments were down for up to
Compaq, always on guard
Canada boasts the longest coastline on the planet at 243,792 km and the largest freshwater system with two million lakes and rivers. DFO must work round-the-clock to protect its environment and the seven million citizens who depend on the oceans resources and tourism to make a living. To complete its mission, DFO relies on Compaq Global Services and Compaq support.
Services are always there when you expect them to be, says Hession. Compaq has an extensive network of field engineers and access to trained professionals at all the places we do business including the remote fjords of the Pacific. Services is something Compaq does very well.
In the future, less is more
As an agency whose scope of work attracts international scientific interest, its technology infrastructure must always thrive and improve.
Every three years we will migrate forward, says Hession. Compaq consistently ships out innovative products and increases its price/performance on existing ones. I congratulate Compaq for transitioning to Intels Itanium chip and changing its business model for server technology research and development.
Another way Hession expects to increase IT productivity while reducing budgets is through Server Consolidation the replacing of older systems with newer, more powerful systems from Compaq.
With fewer servers, we also have fewer points of potential failure, lower total cost of ownership, and increased employee productivity, explains Hession.
Like the snowcrab and lobster harvests which increasingly produce hundreds of millions of dollars in export revenue, Hession says the Compaq OpenVMS AlphaServer platform keeps getting better every year.
Hession notes that while other companies have abandoned their roots and surprised their customers by going in different directions, Compaq has proved its staying power.
Were going to follow Compaqs future and stay current, says Hession.