Feeds

A$100m supercomputer project queried

Auditor critical of Uni of Melbourne cluster of problems

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

A A$100 million supercomputer facility in Victoria, funded by A$50m of government funds with the rest coming from the University of Melbourne, has come under fire from that state’s Auditor-General.

The VLSCI – Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative – is due to be completed in 2013, and would create one of the world’s top-ten facilities. Stage 1 of the project, a smaller IBM cluster, went into operation in August of 2010. The final facility is intended to have clusters from both IBM and SGI.

However, the Auditor-General’s report casts doubt on whether the facility would actually meet researchers’ needs.

The VLSCI project was conceived by the University of Melbourne and successfully pitched to the government. However, the auditor says “the absence of sufficient needs and options analysis and sound procurement processes” means that the University can’t show if the money will be well spent.

According to the report, thee university approached the market before it had found out what researchers actually needed, and it can’t demonstrate value for money.

The 400T flop facility was announced amid much fanfare in 2008. However, the change of government since then led to the referral of the project to the Auditor-General.

The risks of allowing haste to overcome prudence are highlighted in the report, which says that although the proposals received in March 2009 did not meet all of its requirements, the University preferred to work to reduced scope rather than repeat its approach to market. The proposals received in 2009 were also over budget by more than A$6m.

The report also suggests that IBM’s close relationship with the university gave it advantages in the tender process. While not naming IBM, the auditor says “the company selected as the university’s partner was involved in the project since 2007.”

This gave it “an intimate knowledge of the university’s requirements and input into the design of the initiative; time to determine how it could assist the university deliver the initiative; and extensive access to university staff.”

Without suggesting impropriety, the report notes that there was “little recognition of this advantage in university documents”.

IBM’s success at relationship-building in Victoria has also been demonstrated by its decision to locate a 150-staff R&D lab in Melbourne.

The report also notes that the contracts were structured in such a way as to give the university little scope to change vendors between its first-stage rollout and the larger second stage.

Although the university believed it could either vary its requirements or choose a different vendor between the two stages, the report concludes that the contract “provides for the automatic expiry” of its agreement “on the termination of the PCF fit out agreement … As a result, if the University wants to continue its research partnership, it does not have the option to engage a different company to deliver stage 2”. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
USA opposes 'Schengen cloud' Eurocentric routing plan
All routes should transit America, apparently
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.