The Co-op is set to save £1m a year on network costs after signing a five-year £21m networking deal with BT to implement a single wide area network (Wan) to connect its three business divisions.
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Under the deal BT has connected the Co-op’s 70,000 staff in 3,500 UK locations via a Wan connection that will link its food retail, travel, pharmacy, funeral and farming operations.
The project has joined together the Co-op’s three main infrastructures, specialist retail, retail and Associated Co-op Creamers (ACC) which encompass all of the Co-op’s businesses.
The organisation needed to connect all of its disparate businesses via one network in order to deploy group applications such as Oracle’s ERP suite which includes its Database 9i and Financials HR and payroll system.
Ian Stringfellow, the Co-operative Group’s head of infrastructure said the retailer estimated a saving of £1m a year because would only be paying for the rental of one network instead of three.
Cost was not the only driver behind the BT deal. The use of different IP addresses for the Co-op’s different business sectors was causing connectivity problems and network clashes, said Stringfellow. "It’s much easier for us to support now with just one network," he added.
The retailer first considered an infrastructure renewal programme in 2003 and the first stage of the project began last year and has just been completed this month.
"Over time the different businesses within the group had developed their own networks and systems. This created difficulties consolidating our infrastructure as each business unit was disparate and required different services," Stringfellow said.