Scitec harvests a networking crop

Scitec harvests a networking crop

Communications integration specialist Scitec has edged out local rivals to score a lucrative network upgrade project with West Australian farmers' Co-operative Bulk Handling Limited (CBH).

The company scored the deal based on technical merit, in what Scitec believes is a vote of confidence in both its network management and integration skills.

The co-operative collects information on grain levels in silos around the state and managing the logistics behind moving grain from regional centres to local and export destinations.

In addition, it works on behalf of farmers to negotiate and control grain sales, in addition to managing grain silo construction and grain transport for local and export markets.

Scitec senior account manager, Greg Harris, said CBH went out to tender when it became clear its existing network based on Telstra PAPL (Permitted Attachment Private Line) copper and ISDN lines was unable to handle the demand of summer's harvest season.

Scitec won the project after responding to the initial tender request and recommending CBH consider different technologies to what it first specified.

Scitec recommended the use of Cisco 7206 routers for CBH's core network requirements and connection to the Frame Relay network.

CBH considered upgrading its ISDN lines, but Scitec recommended a managed Frame Relay service from Telstra, which turned out to be a cheaper option according to Harris.

After conducting an audit of the existing network, Scitec discovered some of the PAPL links were incap- able of meeting CBH's reliability requirements.

"We found some of their links were not working at all," Harris said.

Fortunately, Telstra came to the party and repaired or upgraded the links as needed. The network is scheduled for rollout over the next eight weeks after the deal was signed less than a month ago. "It's specifically being put in place for this upcoming harvest over Christmas," he said.

Once completed, it will carry data from grain silos spread across under 200 locations across the state. CBH's network operates from the central site in Perth, radiating out to four regional ports in Albany, Esperance, Kwinana and Geraldton, with a further 20 hubs connecting individual silos to the network.

The CBH network uses a Cisco 2500 series router in each of the hub sites, while it uses IBM AS/400 and NT-based servers in Perth.

Meanwhile, Harris reports Scitec will install a Cisco 3640 router at the central Perth site to provide staff and clients with dial-up access to the network to access such things as information on the status of grain transport.

Scitec's network management service, known as the Network Observa-tory, provides CBH with round-the-clock monitoring of the network's WAN, routers, link utilisation and faults. Any critical faults are reported to CBH technical staff, while it provides CBH management with a monthly report detailing network performance, any incidents and what Scitec did to resolve the problem.

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