USGS center upgrades its PCs

Munro, IRM coordinator for the Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center,
bought desktop PCs from Nexar for his organization last September.


Nexar's special panels let users access the CPU, memory, cache and voltage regulator
module socket to upgrade or replace parts.


"Ease of upgrading is one of the problems everyone's faced over the past 12 to 15
years," Munro said. "Desktops become outdated within two years."


The USGS center paid about $100,000 for 50 Nexars from Government Technology Services
Inc. of Chantilly, Va. GTSI sells Nexar PCs on its General Services Administration
schedule contract.


The 133-MHz Pentium desktops have 32M of RAM, 1.6G hard drives, 8X CD-ROM drives, 2M
Diamond Multimedia Stealth video accelerators, 3Com Corp. 10/100-megabit/sec network cards
and 15-inch monitors.


Munro said USGS also has bought a few 166-MHz machines with 2.5G hard drives and has
upgraded a half-dozen with 166- or 200-MHz processors since September. The systems accept
up to 200-MHz Pentiums with 128M RAM, and the hard drives can go up to 4G IDE or 9G SCSI
capacities.


The PCs, which run Microsoft Windows 95, also come loaded with Corel Corp.'s
WordPerfect 7.0 office suite and Lotus Development Corp.'s cc:Mail. Munro said users also
have SAS Institute Inc.'s Statistical Analysis Software 6.11. Users are networked with
Novell NetWare 4.0, and several servers also run Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 and 4.0.


Munro supports about 180 users at the center's Laurel, Md., office. He also supports a
small number of field stations on the East coast. He said the other desktops and servers
come from many different manufacturers and that it's easier to administer products made by
one company. Budget constraints, however, usually have forced him to make piecemeal
purchases and search for bargains.


Each Nexar desktop has a hard drive and a drive caddy, so that when Munro configures
various systems with the same software, one drive can act as the master and copy the
software to the second, destination drive. Compared with custom installation on individual
PCs, he said, this process lets him load software in less than an hour.


Munro found hard drive, cache and sound card defects in several of the systems when
they arrived. "We put all the problems into one or two [systems] and shipped them to
Nexar, which took care of it," he said.


The company gives a one-year, on-site warranty with two additional years of depot parts
support and a four-year warranty option. Nexar uses Wang Laboratories Inc. for its
worldwide service.


The company supports federal customers who want to maintain their own systems, said
Tony Colangelo, vice president of Nexar's Federal Systems Division in Fairfax, Va.


Customers include the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Transportation Department.


Colangelo said the Defense Department accounts for 70 percent of Nexar's federal
business.


In response to requests from users who work in secure environments, the company offers
a hard-drive replacement program that provides replacements without requiring the exchange
of a failed hard drive.


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