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Weather Bureau upgrades network for Games

Weather Bureau upgrades network for Games

A new ATM network link has been installed by the Bureau of Meteorology to handle increased data traffic between Melbourne and Sydney generated by the Olympic Games.

Part of a national WAN upgrade expected to take place over the next few years, the Sydney-Melbourne upgrade was completed before the Games began because of the expected bandwidth demand.

The Bureau of Meteorology is responsible for delivering weather reports, including satellite and radar reports, for Sydney and specific Olympic venues such as Sydney Harbour and Homebush Olympic Park. Additionally, the Bureau will be supporting a number of special international scientific teams conducting weather research projects in Sydney.

According to Mike Hassett, superintendent of communications for the Bureau of Meteorology, "a greatly increased" amount of data is expected to be transferred between the Bureau's head office in Melbourne and the NSW Regional Office in Sydney.

During the Games, the Bureau's existing Frame Relay WAN, WeatherNet, will be used in parallel with the new ATM link, which in time will completely replace the current infrastructure.

A week into the Games and Hassett said the new network was running smoothly. "Things are going very well as far as I can tell. We generally only hear if there are problems, " he said.

"Our Melbourne-Sydney link is carrying average traffic of over 400Kbps (kilobits per second) with peaks of over 3Mbps."

The Sydney Olympics was a catalyst in the decision to upgrade the Melbourne-Sydney link, although according to Hassett the Bureau has had a long-term strategic plan to upgrade to ATM for some time.

"We made a strategic decision to go to technology that is more scalable as demands grow," Hassett said. "ATM gives us a platform that is easily expanded, while Frame Relay has access limitations. With capacity, we had hit a point where the current technology couldn't scale up.

"Our plan is to upgrade down the track when we can afford it. We see this as the first step in a long-range plan to convert our backbone to ATM."

Following a tender process in February this year, the Bureau selected PowerTel for the project, Hassett said. PowerTel worked with the Bureau to implement the ATM technology in June and following some network configuration the connection went live in mid-July.

High-end routers were also installed in Melbourne and Sydney to accommodate the new ATM link.

In a related project, several new temporary Frame Relay connections were also installed between the Bureau's Sydney office and other locations throughout Sydney, Hassett said.

These included a 512K Frame Relay link to the temporary office located at the Rushcutters Bay sailing complex, a 512K link to the Meteorological Centre at Sydney Airport, and a 128K link to Badgerys Creek to cater for a Doppler Radar which has been temporarily installed. Additionally, an ISDN link has been established linking the Bureau with SOCOG's headquarters in Ultimo.

Hassett said a back-up ISDN link has also been installed for a mirror website the Bureau has set up. Connect.com is hosting the mirror site.

"After the Olympics, the ATM link will stay in place. We will remove the link to SOCOG, Rushcutters Bay and Badgerys Creek," Hassett said.

According to Hassett, it is likely that the next leg of the ATM network will be installed between Sydney and Brisbane next year to support a new back-up centre. "But we haven't absolutely decided yet."

Chris Ryan, the Bureau's superintendent of regional computers, said that in addition to the communications upgrade, the Bureau had to configure its systems to support the world weather research team and IBM's Info 2000 system.

Weather scientists from Canada, the US, the UK and Australia have been working with the Bureau since September last year in order to be up and running for the Games, Ryan said.

The Weather Bureau has also been working closely with IBM and SOCOG to integrate Info 2000, the intranet results and information systems developed by IBM.

"There was a bit of worked involved . . . it just meant our systems had to produce output in a format that Info 2000 could handle," Ryan said.


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