NSW Police ditches mainframes

The mainframe environment which has been running the NSW Police services' core applications since the early 1990s is about to meet its maker.NSW Police (NSWP) this week released tender documents outlining its desire for a wide-ranging upgrade.

The mainframe environment which has been running the NSW Police services' core applications since the early 1990s is about to meet its maker.

NSW Police (NSWP) this week released tender documents outlining its desire for a wide-ranging upgrade. Key will be the replacement of the mainframe system -- on which most of the force's core applications currently run -- with a modern "open systems" environment.

While the service said the exit of supplier Fujitsu from the mainframe marketplace, as well as the eventual withdrawal of hardware and operating system support in 2007 were factors in its decision, it seems mainframe technology in general is no longer looked upon favourably by NSWP.

The organisation cited "an inability to meet business requirements for presentation and business intelligence", "high maintenance and integration costs" and a "diminishing pool of skilled resources" as additional reasons to move away from a mainframe environment.

NSWP currently runs a host of additional server environments ranging from Windows platforms to Unix platforms like Solaris and AIX, and even Red Hat Linux.

Moving away from the mainframe environment will require NSWP to redevelop its key Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS) application, used daily by police officers as their basic computing resource.

COPS was originally developed in the early 1990s using Software AG's Adabas database management and Natural application server tools. NSW wants the new system -- dubbed COPS2 -- to be based on a commercial off-the-shelf solution instead of being developed from the ground up.

A number of additional development environments based on technologies other than Adabas and Natural exist within NSWP's systems.

In 1998 NSWP utilised an IBM Informix Metacube environment running on Sun Solaris to build a data warehouse for analysis and reporting purposes.

An extra SAP-based environment supports the finance and human resources functions. Development is carried out using the ABAP programming language and an Oracle database also running on Solaris.

Sun's J2EE environment was introduced still later in order to allow some data to be accessed via the Web. That environment utilises tools like JBuilder and Eclipse, and is integrated with Weblogic's application server and an Informix database.

NSWP noted a number of extensions to COPS had been built in this last environment. EntireX Communicator, a middleware product provided by SoftwareAG, is used to integrate J2EE with the mainframe environment.

But not all environments will survive the upgrade.

"It is anticipated a reduction in the number of development environments will take place. The current plethora of development platforms is unsustainable and renders the entire environment difficult and costly to manage," noted NSWP.

NSWP concluded by noting its desire to use XML industry standards to exchange information between components.

The upgrade is only one of a number recently highlighted by NSWP. The organisation is also beefing up its ID management and firewall management, along with replacing its computer-aided dispatch system.

An upgrade of the force's operations center in Penrith as a backup to the principal IT systems in Sydney's CBD has also been flagged.

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