AusTender Web site catches cold

The federal government's procurement Web site greeted users with an unusual message this morning: "The evaluation license for this copy of Macromedia ColdFusion has expired."The notification on the AusTender site further advised users to "contact Macromedia sales to purchase an unrestricted ...

The federal government's procurement Web site greeted users with an unusual message this morning: "The evaluation license for this copy of Macromedia ColdFusion has expired."

The notification on the AusTender site further advised users to "contact Macromedia sales to purchase an unrestricted ... licence" for the Web application development platform. It also said due to the fact the evaluation licence had expired, only users from certain Internet addresses could access services through the site.

While spokespersons from the AusTender help desk and the Department of Finance -- which administers the e-procurement platform -- told ZDNet Australia  the tendering system definitely used a legal copy of ColdFusion, both added they did not know why the problem was occurring.

"We don't know how the error message has been generated, but we're certainly working to fix it as soon as we can," said the Finance spokesperson. "We've certainly got all the appropriate licences - this is a glitch."

Macromedia system engineer Brian Chau said the enterprise edition of ColdFusion expired after 60 days unless a system administrator input a valid serial number. "It will revert to the developer edition," he said. And then, "only three or five people can connect to run the application at one time and it's off limits in terms of IP addresses."

Chau said the AusTender problem would be simple to fix if AusTender was in possession of a full ColdFusion licence. "If some of the files that were installed into the user profile were deleted," he said, "it may say that the licence expired. That's the only reason that I can think of."

"It will then come up with a dialog box saying: "Do you have a serial number?". If they have a serial number, they can key it in and it will bring it back [the full functionality of the program]," he concluded.

While the main page of the AusTender site was updated mid-morning with a notice informing users the page is temporarily unavailable, the ColdFusion error message can still be seen by attempting to access any sub-directory of the site.