The Information Systems and Technology Center of the US Air Force’s Aeronautical Systems Division is housed within the Wright Patterson Air Base complex in Ohio State. Here, a wide variety of powerful (and expensive) computer hardware is in use, including systems from Control Data, DEC and Cray Research. In an effort to make better use of these resources, the Center now plans to set up a central datacomm system which will allow the various end-user organisations with which it deals transparent access to the host computers from their own remote terminals. The contract to implement the system has been awarded to Control Data in a deal worth $13.7m. The project will be developed in two phases – phase one will give around 500 users simultaneous round-the-clock access to the multiple vendor systems at the Center, with phase two extending this to more than 1,500 users. Control Data claims that its Ascent software will allow users on a wide variety of dissimilar terminals transparent access to networking, integration, electronic mail and database functions, and has subcontracted Tolerant Systems Inc of San Jose to provide a host for the software by signing a $3m three year reseller agreement. The Center will use 18 of Tolerant’s fail-safe Unix systems as a host for Ascent, which also provides access control and security procedures. With future growth in the number of users a major requirement, Tolerant’s multiprocessor Eternity system was chosen for its ease of expansion. By using NS32000 processors as system building blocks in a functionally distributed architecture, Tolerant claims that a system can be incrementally expanded to a limit of 40 processors, depending on the application. Fault tolerance is provided by the operating system and by the distribution of system operations amoung multiple processors. Apart from the Aeronautical Systems Division itself, users of the system will include the Wright Aeronautical Labs, Air Force Institute of Technology, and the Armstrong Aerospace Medical Research Labs in the US. The Center is currently administering programmes for the F-15 and F-16 fighters, B1-B bomber, and the C-17 Transport.
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