Its old 64kbps Frame Relay network supported green-screen dumb terminals in the retail outlets. But it could not provide the multiple internet connections it required to give staff and customers access to a new online product catalogue.
Calumet considered systems from its existing telecoms providers which offered either ADSL or expensive leased lines. However, to triple the bandwidth of the existing £130,000 network, it would have cost an additional £192,000, bringing the total bill to more than £300,000.
The firm chose instead to roll out an IP-based system, Inpurple from SwitchIP. Phil Browning, Calumet's European IT technology manager, compared the cost of upgrading the Frame Relay network with basic 512kbps to 256kbps ADSL. He said, "The quality was much higher and it had an initial one-off cost of £40,000, with £65,000 to £70,000 a year running costs."
Browning estimated that the system had increased Calumet's bandwidth eightfold.
Inpurple is a broadband ADSL network for voice, data and video, based on Asynchronous Transfer Mode architecture. ATM creates a fixed channel between two points whenever data transfer begins, whereas TCP/IP divides messages into packets, which can take a different route from source to destination.
The company implemented Inpurple in March 2004 across its UK stores and offices in London and Milton Keynes using a single firewall. The system uses a private BT ADSL network run by SwitchIP from London's Telehouse hosting facility.
Among the benefits of the system, the company gained web-based network management, allowing it to monitor the UK network with just three IT personnel.
As part of the roll-out, Calumet is replacing its Citrix-based green screen units with terminals that run Windows 2003 Terminal Services. It also plans to add new barcode scanners, which will be used to identify stock electronically.
Next month the company is due to replace its Windows NT servers with Exchange Server 2003.