MANILA, January 23, 2004 (STAR) On its 87th anniversary, the Senate establishes its presence in the digital realm by upgrading its facilities with the finest network hardware available.

With every notable institution embracing the IT revolution, why is this so special? Simple: As the legislative backbone of the country, the Senate speaks for the people, and its network connectivity translates into unity in lawmaking within its halls and greater access for Filipinos to the country’s leaders.

This step was spurred by the senators themselves, in their desire to harness the latest advances in information technology to aid in lawmaking.

While the idea of employing a local area network (LAN) had been brought up since 1998 and again in 2000, it was only in 2002 that the project came to life.

The task of making the upgrade was entrusted to Mario Sulit, director of the Electronic Data Processing and Management Information System (EDP-MIS Bureau). This was no simple feat, for while an IT expert in the private sector needed to merely specify a brand based on personal expertise, Sulit was required to put several brands through a bidding to make sure that taxpayers’ money was put to good use.

In 2002, everything fell into place. The senators’ request for IT implements was the go-signal for the full computerization of the Senate.

In April 2003, the EDP-MIS Bureau set up a LAN that made use of versatile, durable and manageable switches which came at nearly half the price of the nearest competitor – the 3Com Superstack 3 switches. And with it, digital life for the Senate.

As Sulit puts it, "Aside from the senators themselves, the Senate employs hundreds of people, all of whom now have access to the Internet, as well as an ever-growing document database, which means a faster and more efficient exchange of information."

The 3Com switches made the basic LAN infrastructure possible. As far as performance is concerned, Sulit described the 3Com products as sturdy and convenient to configure.

Then, too, the versatility of the 3Com switches allow for them to be easily integrated into the firewall, router and servers of other previously installed brands.

But how exactly does the network improve the Senate’s operations? As a lawmaking body, the Senate is highly dependent on a legal database as well as information from outside the premises.

The 3Com LAN facilitates electronic communication between offices and provides Internet access for the senators and their staff, allowing for better informed and faster decision-making.

Given the burden to be placed on the network, the 3Com Superstack 3 Switch 4924 served as the network core, which far exceeded the technical specifications as required by the Senate Computerization Program. Designed for use with a server farm or wiring closet, this workhorse supplies multilayer, wirespeed Gigabit Ethernet, guaranteeing fast and consistent network performance. This stackable 24 port 10/100/1000 switches also have the capability to back each other up should any of the other switches encounter technical difficulties made possible by innovations such as the SuperStack Advanced Redundant Power System that make use of backup switches that automatically assume the workload in cases of downtime.

Mr. Sulit says that since the network went online last April, the EDP-MIS Bureau has not needed to call for technical support.

When asked when the next product upgrade would be, the Director excitedly described the IT expansions slated for this year and 3Com asserts that all these can easily be accommodated by the core switch‚s Expandable Resilient Networking technology, which is intended for the scaling of network connections to 48 wirespeed Gigabit Layer 3 switching ports between multiple Superstack 3 Switches in the 4900 family. Videoconferencing between offices, multimedia streaming, even wireless access points these enhancements seem not too far ahead with the 3Com Superstack 3 Switch 4924 at the core. And to complement the core switch, the Superstack 3 Switch 4400 was used at each node delivering high performance 10/100 Ethernet switching. 3com Setting The Standard In summarily describe the 3Com products, Mr. Sulit says that aside from being easy to configure, they are also nearly effortless to maintain, compatible with other brands, and highly affordable. In other words, the Director was satisfied with the technological investment made for the Senate and thus, for the Filipino people.

Mr. Sulit admits that while he wishes all of these developments could have happened earlier on, he is excited at the prospect of maximizing the use of the Senate’s network "because that’s where the progress starts." With everyone else making the IT leap, a network upgrade in the Senate may not appear extraordinary. But in light of the country’s history progress is progress, however large or small the increment.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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