Case Study: Cisco 4000 & 7200 series routers

Rapid company growth can be a big problem for overworked networks. Business software developers, PeopleSoft, have found a way to...

Rapid company growth can be a big problem for overworked networks. Business software developers, PeopleSoft, have found a way to ease the pressure with Cisco Routers

PeopleSoft is a multinational company marketing a wide range of client/server business software including financial and human resource management. It was established in 1987 to provide industry-specific solutions for markets including healthcare, manufacturing, higher education and retail. Over the past 6 years, the company has expanded rapidly from a few hundred employees in 1993 to over 4500 in 15 countries at present. This rapid growth in employee numbers has led to an increased demand for access to the company's Wide Area Network. Additionally, virtually every PeopleSoft employee is issued with a laptop from which the corporate network can be accessed. New network architecture was clearly needed to cope with this demand.

PeopleSoft approached Enterprise Networking Systems (ENS) to assess the network and offer recommendations. ENS then devised a system based on routing and switching technology from Cisco systems. This system is currently in use in 37 PeopleSoft offices around the world.

PeopleSoft uses Cisco 4000 and 7200 series routers in both its corporate headquarters in Redwood, California, and in its regional offices. A system of routers was necessary to direct packets of data to the next appropriate node of the network structure, reducing unnecessary traffic across the entire network. Network Engineer, Stan Christensen, notes the benefit of the router system. "When you're growing at the rate that we are, you need to be able to add more capacity without much fuss," he explains. "We know that our routing and switching technology can be deployed on a small site and then stretched to accommodate a very large site without having to buy more equipment."

PeopleSoft currently has routers located in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Australia and South East Asia, amongst others. The 4000 and 7200 routers form part of an entire system of Cisco networking products including Internetwork Operating software, ATM Switches and Catalyst 5000 LAN switches. The router does more than determine the destination of the packet. By referring to tables of available routes and distance and cost algorithms, the most efficient route can be calculated.

To implement this new architecture, ENS formed a dedicated group to ensure that choice of router technology and training of engineering staff was standardised across all territories. PeopleSoft has found that this approach has saved them money. "One of our major costs is training," explains Dianne Wimmer, manager of Network Services. "We consider training our engineers an investment. By using Cisco products, out training is focused and thorough and doesn't have to be repeated across multiple platforms and technologies." Such standardisation of router technology also allows future upgrades to be implemented easily. "The system gives us the ability to move equipment without redesigning or reconfiguring it," she adds.

The result was a stable network of over 5000 devices that not only catered for a growing number of users but also allowed steady improvement without sacrificing user access. "Our users need more and more data at faster rates," says Steve Zarate, chief information officer for PeopleSoft. "Building a communications network that will enable us to deliver information to employees around the world, in support of hundreds of customers, is a major business goal. Cisco is the key to meeting that goal."

By Richard Pitt

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