Case Study: A managed network solution by RCS Marconi

Network management tools often overlook common office devices like printers and faxes. RCS Marconi has found a way to integrate...

Network management tools often overlook common office devices like printers and faxes. RCS Marconi has found a way to integrate the entire office environment into a fully managed network solution

Radar Countermeasure Systems GEC Marconi Avionics (RCS) is part of one of the world's largest defence contractors. Based at four sites around Edinburgh, Scotland, the GEC subsidiary conducts research, development and production of high-technology equipment for defence applications. With multiple sites across the UK, RSC have purpose-built design and evaluation facilities for complete electronic systems, incorporating high-performance anechoic chambers in association with digital and hybrid computer modelling techniques.

Until a major upgrade in 1998, the Edinburgh-based part of the company had run a mixed NT/Unix 2000 user network for many years. Their offices contained a large number of document processing systems not all attached to the network. The three sites that made up RCS included stand-alone photocopiers for large volume and double-sided documents, fax machines attached to independent phone lines and several scanners dotted around the offices. The company's printing requirements were serviced via various printers attached to the either the main network or smaller workgroups.

They had two big problems with this arrangement. Managing these document processing peripherals across the numerous departments and offices throughout the site was very time consuming. Having different devices in multiple locations increased workflow congestion and also made the tracking of documents more difficult. The variety of the devices from different manufactures also needed multiple service and support contracts that required RCS to purchase and store a wide range of consumables and parts.

In 1998, to alleviate the problem, the company decided to overhaul its existing office practices and implement a centrally-managed document processing system. The network administrators at RCS already had tools in place for application and data management across their network. Their biggest problem was managing peripherals like printers, scanners and faxes. Their primary aim was to allow users do the majority of their printing, faxing and document tracking directly from their desks. A secondary goal was to simplify support and provide backup facilities in case devices became temporarily inoperative. The solution was to implement a centrally managed document processing system.

This system consisted of a number of Xerox document centre-230 ST and Xerox's CentreWare network peripheral management software. CentreWare users have access to a variety of workgroup productivity tools, including Sample Set, which enables people to view and approve final, complex document jobs before they are printed or faxed, and Secure Print, which holds confidential documents within the Document Centre until released by the users' PIN number. The Delayed Print feature allows users to schedule large print and fax jobs for after work hours, saving time and money.

Each DC-230 has an integrated, heavy volume copier, scanner and fax manager fully controllable over the network. The system has built in support for the company's network infrastructure and protocols while working with existing applications. The CentreWare software offered many management functions without helpdesk staff even leaving their desks. Every DC-230 unit notifies central administrators of current toner, paper and job status via the network. Printers can be removed from the network and substitute machines brought online without any jobs being lost. Another useful feature of CentreWare is the facility that allows administrators to view all printer, scanner and faxing traffic, allowing them to manage their resources more effectively.

With such a large number of networked, digital and multi-function devices, the company is looking at a number of significant benefits. For example, the new connectivity meant that the four separate sites will be better networked, cutting down on the need to courier documents between buildings; paperwork will be reduced when staff are introduced to centralised and rationalised document production methodologies; and there will be increased reliability because of DC-230's advanced digital technology.

Network administrators at RCS Marconi were suitably impressed with the results of the initial installation that the same system has been implemented in three other sites. Although somewhat overlooked, peripherals also have manageability requirements that Marconi have understood and met.

By Will Garside

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