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News > NOCS Scientists all at sea with Avocent HMX KVMoIP solution?

Recently, our High Performance and Secure Systems team had the opportunity to board one of NOCS' two scientific research vessels on one of her rare visits back to port, and see how their Avocent HMX KVM-over-IP solution was performing on the high seas.

The National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton's (NOCS) - part of the University of Southampton - operates two reasearch ships on behalf of NERC, the Natural Environment Research Council.

Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Cook was delivered to NERC on 31st of August 2006 having been built by the Norwegian shipbuilder, Flekkefjord & Maskinfabrikk AS to a design by Skipsteknisk AS. The ship is named after Captain James Cook FRS RN (1728-1779) who led 3 of the most significant voyages of exploration ever undertaken between 1768-79.

The James Cook is the latest addition to its fleet of oceanographic research vessels, and came into service in 2006. The ship is designed to carry scientists to some of Earth's most challenging environments, from tropical oceans to the edge of the ice sheets. It plays a significant role in delivering NERC's science priorities both now and in the coming decades. Substantially larger than its predecessor, the RRS Charles Darwin, the RRS James Cook is fitted with some of the most modern scientific systems available. In addition the ship has been built to meet the ICES Cooperative Research Report no. 209 - Underwater Noise of Research Vessels, so-called ICES 209 standard, meaning she is one of the quietest research vessels currently afloat. RRS James Cook is also built with a Dynamic Positioning (DP) system, enabling the ship to hold station in all but the most violent weather. This combines with the ability to deploy the Isis ROV (Remote Operations Vehicle) to make RRS James Cook one of the most advanced research vessels currently in service - even to the point of being capable of passing control of the ship to the ROV on the sea floor, maintaining the ship's relative position using the 360 degree steerable azimuth thrusters.

The scientists and students go out on research trips, euphemistically called "cruises" (the cramped conditions, heat and smell of marine diesel conjure up anything but a luxury cruise!) of up to three months duration, so it was of interest to us to see how our KVM units have fared, especially with the extremes of temperature the ship would be subjected to, anywhere from the tropics to the polar regions. The equipment has performed very well, but deployment at sea has thrown up some interesting challenges for the engineering and R&D teams back at Emerson Network Power|Avocent - for example, how to differentiate a user's deliberate mouse movement - which is the switching trigger in share mode, follow mode and force mode - from that of an unattended terminal's peripheral IO devices sliding around in stormy high seas!

Our thanks go to Gareth Knight for hosting the visit, Jon Seddon for taking us on a guided tour of the vessel, and Paul W. Bradley for showing us around the NOCS and University of Southampton Data Centres (whose Cold Aisle Contanment and Free Air Cooling systems result in some rather impressive PUE figures), and for allowing us to use his phograph of the RRS James Cook coming into dock earlier in March.

It was a fascinating visit, and also an opportunity to get on board and upgrade the management system and transmitter/receiver firmware, to enable faster switching and improved USB performance. Who knows when we'll get the opportunity to catch the RRS James Cook in dock again?

You can read Pierre Ketteridge's blog article on "RRS James Cook and the black smokers" here.

"IP Performance enabled us to trial the system in a test environment and then between Dubai and Edinburgh. They provided us with full support and fast response to any problems."

Gavin Wilson, Systems Development Manager, Heriot Watt University

Specialised Network Infrastructure and Systems Integration

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