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Econo-LAN & brouters end utility data snags.

ECONO-LAN & BROUTERS END UTILITY DATA SNAGS

Richard Foltz is manager of information technologies at Pennsylvania Power and Light, a utility located in Allentown, Pa.

Heavy industry, such as steel, no longer is as big a customer as it once was.

This utility, like many others, has had to react deftly to changes in the local economy.

Pennsylvania Power and Light has also been closely involved in reacting to the communications needs of its own employees, which can fluctuate as surely as those of the market outside.

It came as no surprise to Dick Foltz that his top numbers crunchers were starting to get a little hot under the collar.

2000 User Sites

Two thousand networked terminals are located in a three-building general office complex in Allentown.

The users in the two buildings remote from the computer center were intensely aware of the slower response time they experienced compared to the users channel-attached in the building containing the center.

Terminal users concerned with calculations involving nuclear engineering were particularly distressed.

The marketing department was set back just a little bit in dealing with customers.

PP&L went shopping, from alternative to alternative.

Traditional local-area networking solutions proved too expensive.

PP&L needed something that would increase transmission speeds from a lethargic 9.6 kilobits per second.

Using bridge/routers from RAD Network Devices (RND), PP&L has accomplished its goal.

They effectively bind together the local users into a LAN. T1 lines are leased from Bell of Pennsylvania to connect the various LANs into what can be termed a wide-area network (WAN).

How It Works

The host computer is I/O channel-connected by cable to two new IBM 3174 controllers. These controllers are linked to the RND token-ring bridge/routers.

T1 lines (running at 1.544 Mb/s) connect these bridge/routers to remote bridge/routers. The remote bridge/routers in turn are linked to Memorex/Telex 1174 cluster controllers (five of them) at each location.

The workstations are linked to these controllers.

This token-ring network has created cost savings for the budget-conscious Foltz.

Additionally, it has delivered a high degree of centralized control.

"We've spent a lot of money on programs that enable us to effectively manage the network," he says.

"It's a very available network, in which response time has dropped from one and a half seconds to under a quarter of a second.

"This is particularly appreciated among our nuclear engineers," he adds.

The RTB (remote token-ring bridge/router) manufactured by RND is an internetworking product that functions, essentially, as a transparent bridge with routing capabilities.

It features "STRing," a combined source/transparent routing procedure used to intelligently distribute IBM and transparent (non-IBM) traffic load in the token-ring WAN.

Depending on the packet type filtered by the RTB, packets are routed:

* along a path determined by the source stations or devices (source routing as specified by IBM/IEEE standard)

* or along a best path determined by the bridge/router itself (transparent routing).

Foltz estimates that Pennsylvania Power and Light spent about $40,000 on the new hardware (the 31mj adapters and the routers) and the software to run it.

Network management at Pennsylvania Power and Light is not intrusive.

Rather, it's a facilitator of the very functionality which users demand.

A staff of five continually watches the network to maintain its health and continuity.

So far, problems have been minimal, largely because Foltz and his network management team maintain constant contact with a user community that's not shy about speaking up.

Since the year-old installation, he says, complaints have almost disappeared.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:third of seven articles on T1 networks, economical local area network
Author:Gitlin, Bob
Publication:Communications News
Date:Oct 1, 1990
Words:593
Previous Article:Merrill Lynch is bullish on T1.
Next Article:Ups and downs of FT1.
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