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Vendor, network thyself.

Most business managers are fond of saying they wouldn't ask anything of their employees that they wouldn't do themselves. At Dallas-based Intecom, where we manufacture voice, data and video telecommunications systems, that philosophy takes on a whole new dimension.

For this enterprise network vendor to consistently design and produce the highest level of systems sophistication, we must integrate new developments into the voice and data network of our toughest critics--ourselves. The company's management team participates in, and involves the employees in, constant testing and use of the same telecomm systems we offer the market. Because our entire product line is in use at customer sites, we continue to use, test and measure all equipment.

Late last year, we reconfigured our enterprise network during the company's recent relocation. Intecom moved its corporate headquarters from Allen, Texas, to a six-story, 120,000-square-foot building in Dallas. Its manufacturing facility is located 15 miles away in the suburb of Plano. Together, the two locations are the workday home of more than 600 people.

These people are the daily alpha-test subjects of our ongoing endeavor to push the boundaries of multimedia enterprise networks.

The heart of the enterprise network is the Intecom D, a non-blocking, standards-based, digital telecommunications platform. Operating in conjunction with the D is its precursor, the IBX (integrated business exchange) S/80 private branch exchange. Local area network (LAN) services are provided with InteLAN, which provides Ethernet and fiber distributed data interface (FDDI) connectivity. It provides a network transmission speed of 10 Mb/s. Internetwork communications at 100 Mb/s is done via FDDI.

Wide area network (WAN) connections are made from the main office building to the manufacturing facility in Plano via three T1 links. The WAN provides voice and LAN connections between the two locations. Manufacturing is supported by an Intecom Telari digital voice communications switch.

By designing the network with two FDDI rings in the main building, our network analysts and telecomm management teams have designed a system that provides equal yet separate connectivity for both corporate and engineering users.

One ring supports all corporate and administrative data traffic and the other connects the computers in engineering. There are two reasons for different FDDI rings. This network configuration localizes data traffic and protects corporate users from network surges or interruptions during engineering's developmental testing.

Localizing data traffic keeps the network free of unnecessary interdepartmental access and speeds up both sides of the network. The localization--or segmentation--of data traffic is achieved through InteLAN Fiber LAN Distributed Interfaces (FLDIs) and Ethernet Bridge Cards (EBCs) that are connected to the fiber optic rings. Each FLDI and EBC connection supports up to 24 computers and peripherals on the network. A router is located between the FDDI rings, controlling data traffic and allowing ring cross-over only when necessary.

A third FDDI ring, at the manufacturing site, is connected to the main building via InteLAN using the Multi Protocol Router (MPN) and a Hewlett-Packard remote bridge over one T1 link. Two T1 links connect the IBX located in the main building with manufacturing's Telari.

Automatic call distribution (ACD) allows our telecomm management team to establish dedicated ACD groups that handle intelligently queued incoming calls for such applications as the help desk and technical support.

Management of the entire network is performed using the Intecom IQ Manager. IQ Manager is a network management system based on Hewlett-Packard's OpenView Unix/MS-Windows-based LAN management package. Supporting SNMP (simple network management protocol) compatible devices, IQ Manager provides on-screen monitoring of the InteLAN network and detects any malfunction or data gridlock. Problem areas on the network are highlighted in red, allowing technicians to quickly locate and rectify the situation.

We maintain our complete product line on the network for one basic reason: We should be the ones to experience the first testing of a product.

After all, we wouldn't ask anyone to use equipment we wouldn't use.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Vendors' Own Networks; InteCom Inc
Author:Himmelstein, Diane; Tighe, James
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 1994
Previous Article:NEC improves product quality, reduces support calls.
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