project's nature, the IT division circumvented the ubiquitous request-for-proposals (RFP) process.

"There were no other vendors out there that could do exactly what we wanted, so we were basically limited to one vendor for hardware and one vendor for the phone. That eliminated the RFP process because there was no one else out there doing this," he said. "There were no other examples to go off of as far as to this magnitude of laying ATM out to the desktop -- as far as other municipalities were willing to share."

Despite dodging the bureaucratic red tape, the IT division still relied on some time-honored principles to keep the deployment on track.

"You cannot undertake a project of this magnitude unless you have some kind of user support, or a proven track record with your users that you've been successful on previous projects," he cautioned.

Fear of the Unknown

Sherwood is convinced ATM is the best technology for networks, offering as evidence ATM's redundant-mesh design, high end-to-end fault tolerance, lack of constraints and bottlenecks in information delivery, ease of management and scalability. In fact, he said, adding more users increases the network's bandwidth.

So why is Oceanside the first city to take ATM to the desktop?

"The early perceptions of ATM were that it was big bandwidth: It was only there to solve bandwidth problems and it would not apply to small cities," said the ATM Forum's Humphrey, adding that the initial high cost was also a factor. "As far as scalability into the future and its ability to guarantee a high level of service to users, ATM is an insurance policy in this world of change and innovation."

"People make ATM sound a lot harder than it is, which then makes managers in IT shy away from it," said Sherwood. "They go status quo and refuse to look at all the benefits that ATM can offer. They would rather stay with their current technology because they know it. It's simple. It may not be the best, but they are sort of complacent and they don't want to move."

Additional information is available by contacting Michael Sherwood, Information Technologies manager, Oceanside, Calif., 760/435-3808; or Ron Jack, director of Administrative Services, Oceanside, Calif., 760/966-4601. *

Oceanside's Palm Court and Oceanside Civic Center, which houses administrative offices and City Hall, the City Council Chambers and the mayor's office.