ICI has begun a programme to monitor the use of its international data networks in an attempt to avoid the need for a mutlimillion-pound network upgrade. The move should allow more efficient use of bandwidth and enable targeted upgrades.
The chemicals multinational is rolling out monitoring software from network specialist NetQoS after experiencing growing consumption of bandwidth by e-mail systems. In addition, there were concerns that application performance had not improved despite a project to upgrade the network and stem rising bandwidth use.
"Before we deployed the tool, we did not have the data to ascertain where bandwidth was being consumed," said Hitesh Parmer, ICI Group's global network technology manager.
Using the tool, ICI found that bandwidth that should have been allocated to time-sensitive applications, such as its SAP enterprise resource planning system, was being squeezed by its e-mail servers.
Parmer said e-mail servers were making the most of the available bandwidth on the MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) network. "Fifty per cent of network traffic was e-mail and only 10% was SAP," he said.
The company will now use data from the monitoring software to determine how best to upgrade the network, which links 400 sites in 46 countries.
ICI plans to complete a network overhaul, identifying and installing DSL broadband connections at suitable locations, in order to free the MPLS network for applications that require real-time network access.
This should also enable ICI to negotiate better terms for its contract with telecoms firm AT&T, which is up for renewal next year.
A major reason for selecting the tool was that it did not require ICI to install new hardware at all of its global sites. Paul Simmonds, chief information security officer at ICI, said, "The key thing is that NetQoS uses data already available from our Cisco routers, so we do not have to deploy hundreds of black boxes across the network."
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