Insurer uses Wan compression to avoid having to install additional leased lines

Retail insurance broker Bland Bankart has deployed wide area network compression technology to avoid having to upgrade the leased...

Retail insurance broker Bland Bankart has deployed wide area network compression technology to avoid having to upgrade the leased line to two of its offices.

The Accelerator network compression appliance, from manufacturer Expand, has been installed at the Bland Bankart's Luton and Birmingham offices, which are linked to a Nottingham datacentre over leased lines.

Stan Hulme, group IT manager at Bland Bankart, said the appliance was deployed to overcome network congestion on the existing Wan connections between the Luton and Birmingham sites and the Nottingham datacentre.

These connections provide the two offices with access to the core brokering application, Microsoft Exchange for e-mail, web, file and print services and network administration.

Hulme considered packet prioritisaion technology, which gives key applications greater bandwidth on the network, but he felt this technology was a trade-off, as one application could get more bandwidth to the detriment of other applications on the network.

Another option was to upgrade the leased lines but this would involve an up-front cost and on-going rental. Instead, Bland Bankart deployed Accelerators ont its network. Hulme said, "We will recoup the cost of implementing Accelerators within a year."

He said the installation of the Accelerator appliances was completed in one day as it only involved plugging the appliance into the corporate network.

Expand Accelerators work both as a network cache to store frequently accessed pieces of network traffic and as a TCP/IP compression engine, which streamlines the protocol.

The Expand box is deployed within a private network, where both sides of the network link are known to be secure. By running within a private network it is able to reduce the overhead cost of transmitting all the necessary bells and whistles built into TCP/IP, which are required to secure traffic on a public network.

By using the compression and caching built into Accelerators Hulme said the performance of the Wan was increased, on average, by 300%. This has allowed Bland Bankart to increase the bandwidth on the network without having to incur the £15,000 set-up cost and annual running costs of installing an additional leased line.

Hulme said the extra bandwidth would come in useful as the company begins to roll out Intel Landesk in February to provide the infrastructure for remote software distribution.

Landesk will be used to update the company's Office 2000 and Windows 2000 installation to Office XP and Windows XP, and for installing patches and bug fixes across the network.

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