Equipment Check: A Tour of the Network Office Hardware

Network News Spring 1998, Vol. 11 No. 1

John Vande Castle–Associate Direstor For Technology

The backbone of the NIS is the Network Office Data Center. Recently installed scalable servers and increased network bandwidth will better serve the LTER Network and ecological community. Two Sun 450 Enterprise servers and two Dell Poweredge servers are the primary computers serving LTERNET. The combination of Sun Solaris operating system on the UltraSparc platform and the Windows NT operating system on the Intel platform allows for maximum flexibility in incorporating new developments and technology, each with strengths that compliment the other.

Unix Servers

The first is a Sun Ultra-Enterprise 450 server with 4-300mhz UltraSPARC cpu’s, 1gb memory, 20gb local disk, tape backup including DDS3-12/24 gb, redundant power and uninterruptable power supply (UPS). A second, identical machine is used as a development/processing/GIS and backup server.

Windows NT Servers/Workstations

A Dell Poweredge 4200 server running NT 4.0 Server and MS-SQL server supports NET database maintainence and is the "domain controller" for LTER. This includes LTER Email forwarding/group database lists used by "lternet". The system has 2-300mhz Pentium II, 256mb memory, DDS3 tape backup, a 40gb RAID5 disk (six 9-gb disks), redundant power supplies and UPS. A second Dell Poweredge 2200 server, configured similarly, provides backup domain/sql services, NET remote dial-up access (RAS) using 3-USR "v.everything" modems, and is also the primary LTER file server. It uses a 120gb RAID5 disk array (16 9-gb disks in a single enclosure), shared to the Unix workstations using INTEGRAPH’s "NFS Diskshare". Office workstations (Dell and Micron notebooks) are 200-300mhz Pentium II systems running NT 4.0 Workstation, and dedicated 100 BT connection to the UNM Internet backbone (and eventually to the vBNS).

Computer Peripherals

HP Deskjets (870cxi) are used in most offices with an HP 5(b/w), HP Color Laserjet 5, and HP 755CM wide-format printer/plotter all shared via HP "Jetdirect" cards. Publication work is also supported by an HP flatbed scanner, Polaroid 7000 slide/film recorder and Polaroid Sprintscan 35 slide scanner. A 4X CD writer is used for data backup and distribution. A Kodak DC50 digital still, JVC-DV1 digital video and Pentax 35mm cameras are used for photography. An Epson 5000 video projector is used for computer display.


Solaris 2.6 is running as an operating system on the Sun Unix platforms, with MS NT 4 Server/Workstation on the PC’s. The complete MS Office suite (and Backoffice) is used for general work, including Outlook for Calendar/Email. Pagemaker and Photoshop are used for publications. Unix and NT 4.0 versions of Erdas/Imagine and Arc/Info is used for GIS support. MS SQL server is used for databases, with plans to implement Unix Oracle.

Most of the funding for the LTER Network Office (NET) hardware is provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation, Division of Environmental Biology, as well as other divisions of NSF, and cooperative agreement with the University of New Mexico Department of Biology. Shared costs with UNM, including the Sevilleta LTER program have resulted in substantial savings. Educational programs of the various vendors have also resulted in substantial savings. Product mentions are not endorsments, but the result of extensive research, and based on budget, past experience and future plans.