Netbridge serves up robust solution for Balfours

Netbridge serves up robust solution for Balfours

A bakery is not the ideal location for an IT system, but Netbridge Systems Integration has overcome those trying conditions to implement a new hardware infrastructure for Balfour Wauchope.

Netbridge has had a relationship with Balfour Wauchope - or Balfours as it is more commonly known - for several years, according to Mike de Broughe, the company's senior sales consultant.

But when Balfours decided to deploy its new SAP R/3 system to users via an IBM AS/400 system and IBM Network Stations, coupled with Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, Terminal Server Edition and Citrix MetaFrame software, Netbridge was no sure bet to win the deal.

"We were not alone in bidding for the business," de Broughe told ARN. "But in the end, Balfours was most comfortable with the experience we had with Windows NT Server and MetaFrame, our history with Balfours' site, and the capability of our engineers."de Broughe admits that in addition to having to build its expertise in dealing with SAP's R/3 suite, Netbridge also had to adapt quickly to IBM's AS/400 environment. Netbridge has only been an IBM reseller for about six months.

"Being a bakery, Balfours is quite dusty and harsh on IT systems so a robust environment is required," de Broughe said. "So we had to take into consideration the AS/400 and R/3 systems but we used our experience with thin clients to tie into those systems without difficulty."

Server-based solution

Paul van der Pennen, manager of information technology at Balfours, said his company's decision to adopt a server-based computing solution was driven by the new SAP R/3 system.

"We needed to get applications out to a growing number of new system users, but we couldn't afford anything that required a high level of support," van der Pennen said. "In addition, a bakery can be a hard environment for a PC, so we had to avoid workstations that involved disks or had internal fans.

"Centralising applications via Citrix Meta-Frame and using IBM's Network Stations was the obvious choice."

An IBM Netfinity 5500 server was installed and loaded with MetaFrame in one day. An IBM AS/400 running R/3 was then set up to communicate with the Netfinity server and the Network Stations within four days.

Initially, Netbridge has installed 41 Network Stations, but Balfours plans to add another 20 Network Stations during the next 18 months, de Broughe said.

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