ICL claims to have overcome scalability problems associated with Microsoft's Exchange groupware and Windows NT 4.0 server software.
A team of specialists at ICL's high performance systems division at West Gorton, Manchester, is to build a 50,000 seat, NT 4.0-based Microsoft Exchange system for the Inland Revenue.
ICL says its development team has solved the problem of scaling Exchange under NT 4.0 through centralising storage and by fine tuning Exchange and NT 4.0 software before implementation.
A working version of the system has already been demonstrated to EDS and the Inland Revenue.
NT 4.0 has a history of scaling and reliability problems, but ICL's software marketing manager Val Newman would merely say that the ICL development team had found the work 'very challenging'.
The system uses two clusters of four ICL Xtraservers, each with a hot spare. Two massive EMC Symmetrix 3.6 terabyte disk systems provide the main storage, with two more Xtraservers organising disk I/O and operating a StorageTek robotic tape library for back-up.
?Computing? revealed last month that EMC is working with Microsoft to scale Exchange using centralised Symmetrix disk drives.
?Centralised storage is vital when you have 50Mbytes of disk space allocated to every one of 50,000 users,? said ICL Trimetra systems marketing manager John Quinn.
?It makes administration much easier and cuts down the network traffic. If the servers and storage are distributed on the network, you build up a lot of extra traffic between the servers and disks,? he said.
ICL would not confirm that EDS/Inland Revenue is the target customer for the system, but a source close to the company confirmed this was the case.
The system is part of EDS's #100 million Infrastructure 2000 project to revitalise systems at the Inland Revenue. EDS is moving all tax offices to NT workstations.
The Inland Revenue was widely criticised last year for inefficiencies in the first full-year of self assessment.
By using Exchange, tax offices around the country should be able to contact each other to swap information and answer queries.
EDS is keen to install the new systems this year, and is not prepared to wait for the launch of NT 5.0 before implementing the Exchange system.
Colin Barker is associate editor of Computing
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