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Swedish manufacturer links European data centers (Modem Update)

When Karl-Erik Skapdal looks out over his network, he sees a smorgasbord of protocols. There are Apple LANs, Hewlett-Packard async, VAX, Bull, SDLC, and BSC all on the same links.

Skapdal is manager of network operations at Molnlycke AB, a Swedish firm which manufactures and supplies paper and hygiene products. Customers include large retailers and hospitals, some of which are connected to Molnlycke's network to facilitate order processing.

The value-added online order processing service provides customers continuous reliability and fast information turnaround on every order received. Sales for Molnlycke exceed $2 billion, and the prediction of continued growth made solution of the problem a key to the firm's success.

Skapdal needed to consolidate data centers in almost every country in Europe and manage them from a single point. Today, the network consists of Codex of 6740 statistical multiplexers and V.32 modems which are situted in all the countries of Western Europe.

The network is managed by a 9800 Network Management system (NMS) located in Gothenburg, Sweden.

"At present," Skapdal says, "we are managing 32 muxes, 6745s, 6724s, and 6015s. there are plans to install more during the remainder of 1991."

Financial transactions--such as information about accounts payable, receivables, and general ledger systems--pass over this mesh network.

Plans call for Molnlycke to place a remote station in Lille, France.

"The second site in France is not installed yet," he points out. "When installed, it will probably handle all events except Scandinavia." There is no immediate need to upgrade link capacity. Skapdal says Molnlycke uses only about 10% of total capacity today.

The NMS does not manage any of the modems. "Most of our links are 64k, and there is no possibility to manage these modems," Skapdal says.

Prior to setting up the NMS, Molnlycke ran information on minicomputers linked to one big mainframe with no online communications between the various countries.

"We started to replace our minicomputers with an IBM mainframe in 1987. To start with, we used IBM's IIN network as a carrier for our SDLC traffic.

"After a year or so, we built up our own network based on Codex products," he continues.

"Before 1987 we only did file transfers between our minis and used IIN as a carrier."

Now, Molnlycke connects all the countries with mesh networking software in a star topology. "It gives us a lot more flexibility in rerouting data and assures us 100% network uptime," he says. Molnlycke still uses a backup center at IBM Holland.

"By having two standby muxes, exactly configured as the muxes close to our IBM FEP, we can swap the network to Holland without doing any network reconfiguration at all," Skapdal says.

As Skapdal's team of networking operators continues to upload all critical information to the 9800 database, they constantly monitor all alarms and on-line equipment to ensure continued network reliability.

Skapdal likes the pop-up windows and ease of copying and storing vital statistics in the 9800's database.

"In addition, it reduces the amount of time people must work with teh configurations. The interface is much easier to use than to have to try to maintain the network by programming each individual remote mux," he says.

The system allows Molnlyncke to keep track of all online customer accounts and avoid having to staff a large number of remote cites.

"The network is never a problem," Skapdal says. "Our network operators are very pleased with the level of service they've received and we are confident that our network can support the needs of our own customers."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Harler, Curt
Publication:Communications News
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Words:586
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