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How sweet it is.

ATM network guarantees sweet productivity gains and lower communications costs for chocolate manufacturer.

When Elite, an international chocolate manufacturer based in Israel, migrated its SMDS (switched multimegabit data service) network to ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), company network managers jokingly referred to its planned CBR voice (constant bit rate) service as Chocolate Bit Rate. The ensuing productivity gains and cost savings are proving to be just as sweet as Elite's products, since its new network ensures that the supply of chocolate meets consumer demand at more than 13,000 points of sale. These include supermarkets, kiosks, hotels and restaurants, and a chain of 50 retail stores across the country. Elite's chocolate, coffee, baked goods, and snack foods command over 50% of the market share in all product categories.

With distribution centers and factories scattered nationwide, Elite needed a way to monitor the quantities being produced and shipped. "We required a high throughput network to allow access from all branches to our central database," says Eitan Peled, Elite's information systems manager. "With the vast amounts of data being transferred between hundreds of users, our old 2 Mbps SMDS network just wasn't performing."

Bezeq, Israel's national carrier, suggested Elite migrate to the public ATM network. With data rates up to 155 Mbps and availability at all Elite factory locations, the ATM network provided the ideal solution.


Rather than swapping out its existing Bay Networks routers, which could not support an ATM uplink, Elite was convinced by Bynet, its local system integrator, that deploying ATM demarcation devices was a better way to go. Bynet recommended the ACE line of ATM-access products from RAD, which offers complete end-to-end service and sophisticated network-management tools, such as monitoring, policing, and shaping. Using a demarc device with such powerful management tools would give Elite the opportunity not only to gauge network performance, ascertaining whether the carrier was meeting its service-level agreements (SLAs), but also to shape traffic to make the best use of available network resources. At four of its factories, Elite connected its existing Bay routers to the Ethernet port of RAD's ACE-20 access concentrators which interface to the public ATM network over E1 UNI (user network interface). RAD's ACE-101 interworking termination units at company headquarters and at the high-traffic distribution center run at 10 Mbps over an STM-1 (155 Mbps) pipeline. The result: "Anetwork that never goes down," says Peled, "and I mean never."

The new ATM network supports Elite's large volume of up-to-the-minute reports on inventory, factory supplies, billing, and accounting generated by a state-of-the-art IP-based real-time stocking application. "It is essential to our business that everyone receive the most up-to-date information," says Peled. In addition, the network provides simple, controlled, and efficient merchandise tracking within the company and outputs barcodes for more efficient distribution outside the factories.


A factor that influenced Elite's decision to purchase the ACE line of products is its built-in migration path to an integrated voice and data network. Elite plans to connect its PBXs to the voice ports of the ACE-20 and ACE-101 units, in addition to the LAN traffic, as soon as Bezeq, the local carrier, offers CBR service [the carrier currently offers only best-effort UBR (unspecified bit rate) service], eliminating its large monthly bills for internal telephone calls. Calculating operating costs between sites and the equipment expenditure, Elite estimates it will recoup its investment in less than half a year after running PCM (pulse code modulation) voice over the ATM network. "The network has ample bandwidth to spare without requiring voice compression," adds Peled.


Given the nature of best-effort service, traffic shaping is imperative to ensure that bursty LAN (local area network) traffic does not exceed the peak cell rate of 10 Mbps that is part of the SLA between Bezeq and Elite. Bursting over 10 Mbps could result in cells being discarded at Bezeq's ATM switches. Traffic shaping is also essential for branch offices where the E1 UNI link could be a bottleneck. Elite could avoid this eventuality by employing the shaping feature in RAD's ACE-101 and ACE-20. Simply stated, traffic shaping means storing data bursts in predefined and controlled buffers or queues. The queued cells are released according to network capability, ensuring that all data gets through with no lost cells. Shaping also ensures that time-sensitive applications, such as voice, enter the public network jitter-free [with low CDV (cell delay variation)]. The traffic-shaping mechanism transmits the high-priority Quality of Service (QoS) cells equally spaced in the network, called "shaping to CBR." Traffic shaping is an excellent tool with E1 UNI service, as it better utilizes the relatively low bandwidth. ACE-101 and ACE-20 also collect valuable statistics from the physical, ATM, and application layers, enabling accurate measurement of WAN activity.


European carriers such as British Telecom and France Telecom have taken the lead in deploying demarcation devices to terminate ATM services at the nexus between public and private networks. This boundary enables carriers to control network performance up to the customer premises and to provide reliable end-to-end service across the network. Indeed, British Telecom and France Telecom have selected the ACE-101 network termination unit (NTU) as their standard ATM NTU for managed UNI services. Both telcos are also evaluating the interworking capabilities of the product for standard ATM access for ATM UNI and voice and data services. "With the ACE-101 ," explains Ariel Caner, RAD's ATM product line manager, "carriers are able to move services to ATM without losing service flexibility while gaining more control through OAM (operation, administration, maintenance) flows, traffic policing, monitoring, and shaping." Deutsche Telekom has approved the ACE-101 as an interworking NTU for its T-NET ATM network, and the product was found to perform according to ITU-T an d ATM Forum standards for voice over ATM (AAL1) and LAN/IP over ATM (AAL5). The ACE-20 was also homologated by Deutsche Telekom for voice and LAN interworking to ATM and for Frame Relay-to-ATM interworking (conforming to Frame Relay Forum implementation agreements FRF.5 and FRF.8), thereby enabling seamless, transparent migration from Frame Relay to ATM, using the customer's existing Frame Relay equipment.


More and more enterprises are migrating their WAN (wide area network) services to ATM to benefit from the technology's QoS offerings and higher bandwidth. According to Vertical Systems (Dedham, Mass.), the worldwide enterprise ATM switch market used to deliver consolidated network services is expected to grow from $695 million in 1998 to about $885 million in 1999, $1.07 billion in 2000, and $1.23 billion in 2001 .And, of course, at factories like Elite, ATM demarcation devices will deliver the QoS to guarantee a smooth and constant flow of voice and data--in addition to chocolate!

Circle 256 for more information from RAD data communications ltd.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Nelson Publishing
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Title Annotation:Company Operations; chocolate manufacturer Elite builds nationwide ATM network
Comment:Elite's new ATM network has reduced costs and increased productivity, compared with its old SMDS network, and enabled the company to meet the demands of its 13,000 customers.
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 1999
Previous Article:High-Speed Copper.
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