I agree with the author that anything one can do to design a deployment so that the PC has a clean, secure, and stable environment the better. I don?t believe in luck, rather, I believe in thorough planning.
I have deployed several PC-based systems on mega-yachts that generally travel the planet and the maritime environment generally defines a harsh environment. Yachts MOVE constantly. They float generally in SALT WATER. They rely on electricity from several sources (shore 110V or 220V, generators, battery banks, inverters, UPS's during power switching or black-boat scenarios). This is a harsh environment.
In the maritime scenarios I have supported, I start by assessing physical conditions within the boat. I seek the driest potential spot to install equipment. If it doesn?t look like it will be dry under all conditions, then it is made to be dry in all conceivable conditions. PCs HATE WATER.
I then stabilize the platform by placing the PCs on a shock-absorbing material such as 1 inch neoprene (wet suit material). The constant motion of a yacht can disconnect even PS2 cables. Speaking of cables, everything is secured down ? cable ties are a real friend, as is this 3M ultra-velcro stuff.
I also directly connect maritime PCs to over-capacity dedicated UPS's. A high quality UPS is a must because it generally takes dirty power and gives it a clean-up before delivering it to the PC. Dirty power is like feeding arsenic to a PC. It might not kill it immediately, but it will, given enough time. Also, boats are constantly changing the source of their power. Generally to do so requires an interruption for at least a second. If the PC is critical, such as a ship's monitoring system, the switching of power cannot interrupt the purpose of the PC.
Damp, salty air will reek havoc on a PC. If a PC is left running constantly, this is not as big a problem because its own heat creates an umbrella-like shield. However, if the PC is turned off, corrosion should be an immediate concern. De-humidification or simply an abundance of refreshed desiccant can help stave off the effect of moist, salty air.
Finally, in maritime situations, and really any mobile, harsh situation, redundant and tested communications methods are critical. Clients can generally stomach the cost of remote connections, but last minute airfare to Tahiti and waiting on replacement parts once there (that have 100% import duties) is almost unforgivable. Most mega-yachts have at least three forms of satellite communication on board the vessel. Being able to use one or more of these to contact remotely is a very good thing. Adding the ability to reach the vessel via a GSM cell is better, and of course, having the captain plan his docking where land lines are always available is a real bonus, but not fail safe. Third world land lines are not what they are in the USA.
Most importantly, a well documented and thoroughly tested harsh-environment system needs regular monitoring and maintenance to insure that unusual problems that occur in an office environment don?t marginalize the system once it dips over the horizon. Think about Captain Murphy and his Law!
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