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Vodafone funds charity's Dell-powered directory

Arif Mohamed
The National Autistic Society and Vodafone launched an online directory last week detailing resources to help people with autism.

The directory runs on Dell Poweredge servers and is funded by Vodafone, which is donating £850,000 over three years.

The National Autistic Society said the Public Autism Resource and Information Service (Paris) is designed to help people with the development disability, including those with Asperger's Syndrome, their families and the people who work with them professionally.

The directory holds information about 4,000 local and national services and resources for professionals working with autistic people. It draws from a UK-wide database of diagnostic services, schools, support groups, training courses, residential and day services and other resources.

The system was developed using two Dell Poweredge 1850 servers - a database and a web server. The National Autistic Society website runs on a further Poweredge 1850 web server and Poweredge 2800 database server, running a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Database.

The Paris deployment runs on a sister system - an additional three Poweredge 1850 load-balanced web servers, two clustered Poweredge 2850 database servers and a shared disc array to maximise up-time.

It also uses Microsoft ASP .net, developed using Visual Studio 2003, with Paris interfacing with the National Autistic Society website via XML feeds.

Phil Dimmocks, Paris project manager, said the National Autistic Society chose Microsoft .net rather than Java to develop the in-house Paris system in 2002 because it was easier to hire people with Visual Basic and SQL Server skills and .net complemented the society's Microsoft applications.

Vodafone entered into a three-year partnership with the National Autistic Society last March and aims to raise £6m for the charity through text message donations.

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