Project: Baton Rouge Wastewater Pump Station SCADA System, August 17, 2005


August 17, 2005

I spent most of the past week meeting with the city's appointed project engineer. During our initial meeting it was noted that a study for restructuring of the city engineering department has been completed. There will soon be someone permanently appointed as the city engineer (the current city engineer is serving as the interim).

A site visit was made with the city project engineer to NTG (Network Technologies Group), the owner and operator of two local data centers. These facilities are designed with industry-leading physical and network security protection. Their primary data center includes FM-200 based smoke detection and fire suppression systems, redundant cooling controls, redundant UPS and redundant diesel generation systems. This data center is supplied via four Tier 1 Internet providers with fiber backbone, filtered by a redundant Cisco firewall capable of being virtually partitioned. Physical security includes 7x24 on-site monitoring and security personnel, magnetic card readers, biometric hand scanners and man-trap security zones. The base cost for collocation of the SCADA servers at the data center is approximately $500 monthly, including 40GB of monthly bandwidth.

One of the primary advantages offered by the data center is that it provides a clean, protected environment vs. the city's wastewater central control room. This is important, as most past failures have been related to residue build-up on floppy, CD, tape drives and power supplies. Hard disks have also failed due to computers being accidentally bumped by maintenance and janitorial personnel.

The data center location guarantees QDS Systems 7x24 access, which is important as we are providing a three-year maintenance contract for the collocated equipment. The data center's provision of redundant power, 7x24 monitoring, firewalls and off-site data backups eliminates the need for the purchase, configuration and maintenance of individual UPS systems, tapes, tape drives, network switches and firewalls.

A site visit was also made with the project engineer to another QDS Systems customer, a $1 billion+ producer of bread, buns and specialty baked goods. Over the past 5 years this company switched its mission-critical sales and shipping operations to a data center hosted implementation of SAP’s enterprise resource planning system. This company recently faced a sharp upturn in itsr business when a major competitor began closing marginal plants as part of a Chapter 11 turnaround. This required major rescheduling of production and shipping at 40 plants as well as managing them carefully to run close to full capacity. The 30-year veteran manager we visited with did not believe his company could have handled the current level of demand had it not made the investment in a company-wide ERP system.

The day completed with a tour of our facility, followed by an overview of major project issues and how we planned to proceed over the next few weeks.

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