All that glitters
Luxury jeweller Cara Jewellers deploys a new IT architecture to help power the next phase of its relentless expansion
Luxury jewellery maker and seller Cara Jewellers had its goals stymied by a network that could hardly reflect their ambitions.
In just 11 years, Cara Jewellers has grown from nothing to one of the leading traders and manufacturers of luxury jewellery in Dubai, one of the biggest markets for jewellery in the world. With a vast luxury collection of items, and a constant drive for expansion, a new and updated network infrastructure was required, underpinned by an extensive and centralised IP surveillance system for security.
The company approached Avaya, a company whose expertise in networking technology Anilkumar Pethani, managing director of Cara Jewellers was familiar with.
Cara wanted to replace the existing system where each shop operated as a silo, using the service provider to make the connections between them. The internet and telephone charges were getting increasingly expensive, Pethani says, and hence the need to inter-connect and centralise the entire system. In addition, each shop has numerous CCTV cameras, and Cara wanted to move all the camera feeds to a centralised and secure location.
Secondly, Cara is eager to expand and thus wanted an infrastructure that could move and allow for faster expansion, something they could not do before.
Avaya provided its next generation wireless switches, unique in that they require no controllers. The wireless infrastructure also offers applications to block certain threats. Also installed was Avaya IP Office, a unified collaboration solution targeted at the mid-market, with shortest path bridging (SPB) which helps with security as well as providing the mobility from outside of the internal network. All calls are recorded for security purposes.
Avaya Fabric Switching provides Cara with a network and topology deployed in some of the biggest properties in the region. Fabric Switching allows the company to easily extend what they have in their existing outlets to the outside world without the need to start from scratch. With Fabric, Avaya provides different zones, separate for CCTV, telephone and the network. This separation assures security by making the system virtually impossible to hack.
Currently, Cara operates seven retail shops and two manufacturing units, with plans to open one more manufacturing unit in the coming year as well as putting up their own building on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai that will incorporate a large showroom. The company also plans to expand operations abroad, with shops slated for Europe and Qatar in the coming year, Pethani reveals. Cara wanted to ensure IT would not be one of their worries.
Another important consideration for Cara was to enable mobility for all the employees via Wi-Fi. All members of staff are connected through a single wireless system, in contrast to the previous situation where multiple connections were being used from the two carriers in the UAE, in addition the internet connections and fax. Today, a single telephone connection, internet connection and one fax number runs all operations. Employee mobile handsets act as their extension numbers using the wireless system that Avaya has installed.
Employees are also today able to move between shops at the Diamond Park shopping centre as well as the factory and still have the same wireless set up without the need to re-sign.
Limitations with the old system were myriad. For one, the system for CCTV cameras was located in each store, taking up precious physical space on the shop floor. “Today we require a single switch box in each shop, tucked away in the ceiling, and we can monitor all the shops from our centralised server room under one network,” Pethani says. The technology has developed a lot so much in the recent past with the switches so dense they take a fraction of the space of what they used to a few years ago.
Additionally, Cara uses an RFID system for inventory and which had to be carried out individually in each shop. The new system allows the company centralise its management software. “Before, each shop was set up to operate individually,” says Pethani. “Today, because the network is consolidated, we have all our data at a central point for all our inventory and products. Stock checking is very easy and quick today.”
Cara has in stock thousands of pieces of jewellery that has to be tallied every day. With a single network, there’s no longer the need to physically visit each and every store to do the tallying and everything can be accomplished in the main office, Pethani adds.
IT is deeply embedded in Cara’s jewellery operations. A piece of diamond is monitored throughout its journey, from the time it arrives at the shop where it’s recorded through the workshop, to the polisher to the person who sets the stone in the factory to the main office where it gets tagged. All this monitoring is centralised so the stone can be tracked at any point during the process.
Cara can today easily extend the network even to an outside environment, like the new building coming up. All that is required is an internet line from the service provider and Cara gets the services that are in current shops extended to the new environment, anywhere in the world. The Avaya session border controller (SBC) and shortest path bridging (SPB) Cara has installed in their network ensures growth will be that much easier.
The new system is simple to use, says Pethani, with Cara maintaining a single administrator to manage their entire IT operations. “In the retail outlets, all you need is to simply plug in a CCTV camera into the network for instance. Everything has been pre-configured” he adds. All the shops are also interconnected.