Integrator Network Systems Technology (NST) will this month begin the implementation of a complete network overhaul for Nissan Australia. Only, according to NST, it won't just be supplying a network, it will be supplying a solution.
What's more, it is a solution it hopes it can take and sell to other companies who are in a similar situation to Nissan.
While the automotive giant was looking to build an IP network linking its 192 dealerships and 12 corporate offices, it was also hoping to maintain its legacy applications. These previously ran over Nissan's old X.25 network.
Surprisingly, NST found there was not a ready solution on the market for tunnelling X.25 over IP. So the integrator sat down with Nissan and its preferred network supplier IBM. Together, they formulated a solution that would provide both a leading-edge IP network and enable Nissan to run its legacy applications.
"We've worked with Nissan and built a solution that satisfies their needs," said Rick Mapp, NST's branch manager for southern regions.
"We're now hoping we can sell this offering to other X.25 customers. In fact, we're talking to one large customer now that sends all its financial traffic over X.25. It will be able to significantly cut costs by sending that over IP," he said.
NST's solution focus was what got the integrator over the line, according to Mapp. The tender came down to an aggressive war between NST and IBM against BCA and Cisco.
"In the end, we had the people with the right expertise."
The primary aim of the new network is to help Nissan's dealers sell more cars, said Michael Carydias, Nissan's manager for operations and technical support, information technology.
"That's our business. Once the network infrastructure is in place, we will be able to give our dealers Web-based enabled applications that provide up-to-date information from our core systems.
"We can also provide information that was previously only available via fax or letter, such as vehicle comparisons, online price lists, technical bulletins and specifications. Everything the dealers will need will soon be at their desktop."
According to Larry Dvoracko, national manager of information technology for Nissan, the old network had run out of legs and was expensive to maintain.
NST was able to demonstrate the benefits of its IBM ATM-based solution in the backbone, while also providing Fast Ethernet down to the desktop.
"ATM is our future, it is the way the industry is going, but we also wanted to benefit from the strengths of Fast Ethernet. What we are putting in now, with NST and IBM, has a lot of scope for development in the future and is extremely cost-effective," Dvoracko said.
NST recommended an ATM switched network for the head office and disaster recover centre, comprising IBM's 8265 Nways ATM switches and 8271 Ethernet LAN switches.
This is to be integrated with a frame relay network for the remaining corporate sites and the 192 dealerships, using IBM's 2216 Nways MultiAccess Connector linked to the existing Amdahl Millennium mainframe and 2210 MultiProtocol Routers. For TN3270 access to mainframe-based applications, Nissan is using Chameleon HostLink from NetManage.
NST will provide ongoing maintenance and support to Nissan but it has not locked the company into a long-term support contract.
"I'd prefer to commit to a six-month goal. If we deliver, we get the opportunity to work on the next step of the project," Mapp said."