Digital lets fly with big network win

Digital lets fly with big network win

Southern Cross Distribution Systems (SCDS) is rolling out a $16 million network and legacy IT systems upgrade to offer Australian travel agencies access to Y2K compliant equipment.

The contract with Digital provides Southern Cross with the ability to lease Y2K compliant network infrastructure and IT systems to more than 7000 of its travel agency clients in Australia.

Southern Cross provides travel agent partners with access to the Galileo worldwide airline reservation and ticketing system. SCDS is owned by Qantas, Ansett and Air New Zealand.

Brad Holman, SCDS general manager, said Digital ousted a host of contenders to secure the deal, including IBM, Fujitsu, Ferntree, Memorex Telex, NCR and Wang.

Digital won the contract prior to its merger with Compaq, with the new Compaq now acting as Southern Cross' IT systems integrator.

The deal concludes a tender process that began in 1996, with Southern Cross now undertaking systems rollout.

According to Holman, SCDS will supply Australian travel agencies with up to $5 million worth of equipment and services, with around $11 million of the total $16 million spent on the Y2K component of the systems upgrade.

The new systems offer SCDS' customers first-time access to the Internet, e-mail, faxing from the desktop, Office 97 and CD-ROMs. The existing Galileo reservation system operates worldwide from a mainframe based in Denver, Colorado.

"The result is we have some legacy equipment, and quite a bit of it to be frank," Holman said. He said the new Australian computers will run on Microsoft NT 4.0 to access the mainframe, now that SCDS has made the decision to dump its legacy Novell platform. SCDS partner Sita is supplying Cisco 1600 and 2500 series routers for the network infrastructure.

Holman said travel agency sites, each with an average of five terminals, will choose between dial-up modem or ISDN connections to the Galileo system across an X.25 network.

Integrated approach

In the past, Holman said, the Galileo network was installed and maintained by a collection of ven- dors that didn't offer an integrated approach.

Southern Cross decided it needed a company that could offer outsourced networking integration, cabling, maintenance, value-added services and the choice of different vendors' equipment.

Holman said that while they chose Digital, the company could still supply other vendors' equipment. SCDS is currently purchasing 4000 of Compaq's Digital PCs and will roll out the new systems during the next 18 months.

* Mark Jones is editor of ARN's sister title Network World

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