CD‐ROM dataset networking with NFS at Brunei University

Publication Date01 April 1995
Pages22-28
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/eb040584
AuthorDavid Thomas
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
CD-ROM dataset
networking with NFS
at Brunei University
by David Thomas, Assistant Librarian
(Systems) and Robert Turner, Compu-
ter Officer, PC Support, Brunei
University
This article takes
a
look
at
Brunei University's
use
of
Sun
Microsystems'
Network File
System
to
network its
CD-ROMs.
The salient
features
are
described,
advantages
and
disadvantages outlined
and
possible
solutions
provided.
Introduction
Like most university libraries, Brunei University
Library first subscribed to CD-ROM datasets
during the mid-1980s. The earliest products were
offered to users on a group of standalone PCs
within the main library at Uxbridge and the CD-
ROMs themselves were issued to users from the
issue desk. Each product could only be used by
one user at a time, and only within the library.
However this service rapidly reduced the demand
for online searches mediated by library
staff,
as
users had their first taste of 'end-user' searching.
As demand increased it became clear that there
was
a
requirement to provide access for more than
one user at a time to each product, preferably in
more than one location. Consideration was there-
fore given as
to
how
the
products could be
networked.
By the end of
the
1980s Brunei's campus network
was steadily migrating from X.25 protocols to
ethernet, and
NFS
software was deployed on most
Unix systems. PCs were rapidly integrated with
this network campus-wide, using Sun's PC-NFS
which was the subject of a CHEST deal from 1989
to
1994.
Today there are over 1500 PCs fully
connected
to the
ethernet including nearly
100
in
student halls.
The objective in networking the CD-ROMs was to
try and deliver
the
service campus-wide
into
class-
rooms and offices rather than set up a small
network within the
library.
Although
the
latter
strategy had worked successfully at some other
university libraries, it did not look cost effective
for
us,
and would have been unlikely
to be
compat-
ible with the
NFS
network for
any
sort of gateway
in the future.
Furthermore it
has
always been our opinion that
CD-ROMs (for dataset provision)
were
likely
to
be
only a transient phenomena and there was naturally
a reluctance
to
invest
too
heavily in specialised
hardware and software. At the time CD-ROM
seemed an inherently unsuitable medium for the
services we wished to
provide.
The appearance of
the BIDS service in
1991,
which immediately
made some of our standalone CD-ROM service
obsolete, seemed only to confirm this view. Ideally
we would wish to provide services using a client/
server architecture and standardised
protocols.
The
lack of standardisation of CD-ROM search/re-
trieval software used by most of our services is a
great inconvenience.
However by 1992 it was clear that our preferred
option for the future was still not
economic,
or
even available, and so we did address the problem
of CD-ROM networking for the Campus Network.
We were encouraged at the time by the apparent
and often expressed simplicity and economy in
providing access to CD-ROMs from Unix comput-
ers.
(For
example,
Networking CD-ROM's with
NFS:
a brief review by Edmund Sutcliffe in
Information Networking
News,(1)
Issue No 5, May
1993).
Brunei has been working with CD-ROMs and NFS
since 1992, but it is only in the most recent years
that sufficient funding for network licences and the
resolution of
early
technical problems has enabled
the service to expand to its current level of
service.
Throughout the development we were encouraged
by what had been achieved by Malcolm E.
Sherrington at the Royal Postgraduate Medical
School (London), by Colin Ian King at the Univer-
1.
Information Networking News is an Electronic journal
URL: gopher.//ukoln.bath.ac.uk:7070/0R0-54606-///BUBL_Main_Menu/S/SA1/SA106/SA1065
_-_Information_Networking _ News_E-Journal%2C_No._05
22 VINE 101 (December 1995)

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