net.work

The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: April 2008

Novartis revamps infrastructure

1 April 2008

Novartis South Africa, a pharmaceutical organisation headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, has upgraded the connectivity of its South African office with the assistance of KSS, a network integrator and Cisco.
This has increased the reliability and performance of the company's networks, enhancing business efficiency and communication, as well as enabling Novartis to meet the standardisation guidelines of its international parent company.
Towards the end of 2006, the South African office had to reassess its infrastructure due to new standardisation policies abroad on compliance to global standards. This propelled the local company to look at upgrading its existing LAN and WAN, as well as upgrading its telephony system to a VoIP platform. The solution went live in March 2007.
"Due to growth and change, our LAN and WAN networks were not functioning optimally. We needed to connect with two branches in Cape Town and an additional two in Durban but found our network to be slow, unreliable and lacking the functionality that we required. We also needed to upgrade our infrastructure to meet global standards," says Brigitte Thompson, service delivery manager at Novartis in Johannesburg.
"In addition, our migration from the Microsoft NT to XP platform further drove the business case for a network forklift upgrade. We felt this was essential to support our branches and continue providing innovative medical solutions to our markets."
Novartis also needed to expand its wireless network at its head office in Isando, providing mobility for notebook users. Another key requirement was to migrate to a VoIP platform as the old telephone system was not meeting the company's requirements.
Novartis provided a design specification, a list of hardware and the standards that they needed to adhere to, to four solution providers. Novartis' global technology partner, BT, facilitated the project implementation and, together with Novartis and KSS, ensured it was done properly and completed within the defined time frame.
The head office applications included Unity for Lotus Notes for 500 users on a Cisco IP IVR MCS7835 server and a Unison Galactrix Telephone Management System. The expanded wireless network required the installation of Cisco's 4400 wireless controller with 16 LWAPP access points to facilitate the wireless IP phones which replaced the older cordless phones. Cisco 2800 ISR routers and C3560 Power over Ethernet (PoE) LAN switches were also implemented.
"The implementation had to be carefully planned to ensure minimal impact on the operations through downtime. The first phase of the implementation took place at the head office in Johannesburg. The hardware was ordered, an asset count and a 'burn-in' were completed.
Comments Thompson: "Although we did not experience any major technical challenges, planning was crucial and facilitating the implementation at five sites in total was a trial. What did emerge is the ethic of teamwork that BT, KSS and Novartis illustrated, eliminating finger-pointing during the implementation, hastening the time to go live and ensuring the project was a huge success."
Redundancy was an important consideration with a converged network and the new network has redundancy built into it with the inclusion of dual links that offer fail over and ensure the business will not be affected if one particular area of the network requires maintenance or repairs. The network now creates improved efficiencies due to faster access speeds to the servers and the ability to find information quickly.
Thompson adds: "In an environment where the production of drugs is reliant on a number of systems, including the support of back-office applications and functions such as finance, it is crucial for us to have a reliable, performance optimised network to support our business."
Once the new network was implemented, Cisco's IP Telephony solution, Dual MCS7835 Call Manager 4.2, was installed with a mix of Cisco 7936, 7941, 7961 and 7971 IP phones. The unified messaging platform simplifies telephony for users on the go, with voicemail messages routed through as an e-mail voice clip.
Thompson adds: "The IP Telephony solution has also allowed us to manage and contain costs. Reporting is now available at the touch of a button and with this information at hand, management of our telephony costs are simplified.
The new Cisco IP Telephony solution meant that users required training to ensure the full functionality of the phones and system was understood and used. KSS provided training and users are now able to log into the phones remotely and securely with passwords.
For more information contact Corne Sassenberg, account manager, KSS, +27 (0)11 545 66300, cornes@kss.co.za


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