Considering the heightened state of security that exists in the post-9/11 world, few people would relish the prospect of getting unusual-looking electronic equipment to pass through customs unimpeded on a regular basis. Gary Bales, a senior programmer and analyst for the investment group of The Hague, Netherlands-based life insurer AEGON, certainly doesn’t.

However, to keep file transfers running smoothly on AEGON’s globally dispersed network, Bales would often need to do just that, and send people, and testing equipment that bears little resemblance to an ordinary server or PC, to every point on the map. “We have a huge number of servers, all across North America, Europe and Asia,” says Bales, who works out of AEGON’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa, office.

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