Original Date: 02/10/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Information Systems Architecture
In the mid-1990s, Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Company, Inc. recognized the need to integrate and upgrade its information systems infrastructure to become more competitive. The company increased its competitiveness by reducing information systems support and maintenance cost and promoting knowledge management throughout its departments.
In the mid-1990s, Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Company, Inc. began to see a loss in its competitive position in the domestic and international shipbuilding and repair industry. At that time, Bender’s Information Systems’ (IS) infrastructure operated on a mainframe-centric concept with low bandwidth, a variety of incompatible heterogeneous desktop applications, and declining ease-of-use. As part of a recovery plan, the shipyard’s IS architecture would need to be modernized to allow the potential for future growth. Bender developed a common open system to be used across its major departments, limiting IS to structured query language database compatibility and a 32-bit Microsoft operating system. The bandwidth throughout the shipyard was increased by installing fiber optic cables to create the Local Area Network (LAN). A group of Information Technology (IT) specialists was created to enable end-users to be more productive. These specialists integrated various software packages through programming when needed, and administered LAN operations. With these improvements, Bender has become instrumental in modernizing the knowledge management required for shipyard operations.
Early in the plan, Bender set a direct-course for all departments to become integrated. Actions addressed such things as common equipment and software standards for flexibility and growth, wider LAN bandwidth to accommodate graphical environments, forceful elimination of obsolete equipment and disparate software, and training end-users to become proficient IT users. The company set internal company standards for the type of computer and server hardware to be used. It also adopted Microsoft operating systems and office applications to allow for maximum integration and adaptability to new IT. Bender decided to lease its servers to keep up with server technology and to use Microsoft’s Visual Basic as the in-house programming language. Bender’s IS group has the authority to select and acquire common hardware and software systems by which different workgroups can network resources and access company information.
Bender’s LAN has been developed to be flexible and allow for future growth. It uses Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol because it allows quick configuration changes to the LAN and has room for growth. The cable topology is fiber optic to provide a higher bandwidth than with copper wire systems. It is expected to have a life span of about 25 years, requiring little to no attention once installed.
Bender trains its end-user personnel in IT by offering opportunities in developing computer skills and software use proficiency, some available over Bender’s intranet. The company maintains a group of highly skilled IT professionals that ensure commercial-off- the-shelf software packages are successfully integrated into the IS, including programming modifications when needed. Bender’s many improvements to its IS infrastructure has led to fewer people doing more and has allowed workers in various departments access to needed information to cooperate more effectively and economically.
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