Saudi looks to Sun for census

Saudi Arabia’s National Computer Centre (NCC) has implemented a solution from Sun Microsystems to power its population and housing census project.

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By  Peter Branton Published  April 23, 2006

Saudi Arabia’s National Computer Centre (NCC) has implemented a solution from Sun Microsystems to power its population and housing census project. The web-based system, which cost approximately US$3.5 million, catches, processes, analyses and presents data compiled from questionnaires filled out by the 22 million people living in the Kingdom. The Saudi Central Department of Statistics set up the NCC to process the third census undertaken in the Kingdom to help with government development and planning. The NCC said it needed a reliable system to underpin the vast amount of data generated by the census and ease the strain of data processing. “We needed to ensure our backend systems were prepared to deal with the amount of information that we were about to receive, and deal effectively with the many stages of the National Statistics Count,” explained Othaim Al-Othaim, NCC head of applications and data-entry. “Our main concern was that once the data was collected we were able to sort and collate the data to make it instantly useable for the many government departments that required access to the information for development and planning,” Al-Othaim added. The NCC initially hired analyst firm Gartner Group as a consultant to advise it on what vendor to go with and what solution to implement. Sun was chosen based on Gartner’s recommendations. Sun said the implementation began in August 2003 and the system was in production eight months later. A total of seven engineers worked on the installation. “The Saudi Census Project offered our engineers the chance to work closely with the Gartner and NCC project implementation teams to secure the best results for the people of the Kingdom,” commented Chris Cornelius, Sun Microsystems Middle East managing director. The system is made up of one Sun Fire Enterprise 6800 server and two 280R servers, eight Sun StorEdge T3 arrays and the Solaris Operating Environment Release 10 software. “Harnessing the computing power of the Sun Fire servers to power the Saudi Arabian census will deliver fast and secure results to the census team, as well as enabling a scaleable infrastructure allowing for future expansion as the population grows,” Cornelius added. Rather than using a traditional mainframe, the NCC implemented an open source system. Sun said going with its open source solution gave more flexibility in terms of manipulating the data and allowed the customer to making the system fit its needs. “We adopted the Gartner recommendations and began implementing the Sun servers and solutions with ease and minimal end-user disruption,” explained Abdallah Alyosef, the head of technical architecture and operation for NCC.

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