Sitting pretty

High charges and slow connections prompted Pan Emirates to find a smarter way to connect its regional network of furniture stores. ACN reports on the project.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  June 14, 2008

High charges and slow connections prompted Pan Emirates to find a smarter way to connect its regional network of furniture stores. ACN reports on the project.

"As soon as I got the first big bill from Etisalat, I started planning to change!" Eyas Khashan, director of information technology resources at Pan Emirates Home Furnishings is quite clear about what prompted him to improve his inter-store connectivity: the high charges for excess data he was receiving while using standard ADSL connections.

The furniture retailer has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years, and now operates 11 branches across the UAE, Qatar and Oman, and is set to launch a number of new outlets in the near future, taking advantage of the region's boom - and not least the large number of new arrivals to the Middle East, a large proportion of which tend to buy furniture from new when setting up home.

Established in 1991, the firm runs its operations from its head office in Sharjah in the UAE.

Pan Emirates has connections from each of its branches to its head office, which handle all its data, from ERP and point-of-sale systems to e-mail, warehouse management, and VOIP.

The firm is currently in the process of changing from ADSL connections to an MPLS (Multi-Protoocol Layer Switching) network for all its locations.

"If you look at the monthly charges with ADSL, they are US$760 a month, but with a download limit of 20Gbytes. Since we have too many downloads, any data being transferred from branch to head office is charged by Etisalat, at around $13 per 100Mbytes.

Sometimes in a month we were paying $3270 a month per branch. This is as good as having a 2Mbit/s MPLS connection," Khashan says.

By having a fixed charge with unlimited downloads on MPLS, it will save us money; I'll pay maybe $820, which is fixed, for unlimited downloads.

Now I know that I'll pay $27,250 a month in total, fixed. With the previous scenario - VPN over ADSL - the minimum charge was $19,000, but it could reach $41,000."

Aside from the excess data charges, Khashan was also receiving a number of complaints from users in branch locations about the slow speed of applications over ADSL - especially in comparison to the 1Gbit/s network in place within the Pan Emirates headquarters.

"When I received these calls, I started looking around for the best solution, the latest technology; I found the best option was to go for a WAN accelerator, which would help improve performance.

If I didn't have the WAN accelerator, I would need a minimum of 2Mbit/s everywhere - but with the accelerator, I can reduce this to 128kbit/s," he says.

UNDER THE VENEER: Pan Emirates’ IT systems

WAN: Etisalat MPLS

WAN acceleration: Juniper

IP telephony: Avaya

Switches: Foundry

UPS: APC

ERP: BaaN

Warehouse management: HighJump

Retail: Microsoft Dynamics

Business intelligence: Business Objects

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