Farmers revamps nationwide WAN

The Farmers retail chain is nearing completion of a multimillion-dollar migration of its national wide area network from proprietary to open standards.

The Farmers retail chain is nearing completion of a multimillion-dollar migration of its national wide area network from proprietary to open standards.

Farmers MIS group architecture and infrastructure manager Chris Holmes says the new TCP/IP-based WAN will enable the company to run applications such as IP telephony or a browser-based environment.

The WAN, which will link Farmers’ 76 retail stores, replaces two existing networks: a 10-year-old leased service running IBM’s proprietary SNA protocol and a three-year-old dial-up connection. Based on Cisco routers, the network will be capable of supporting existing IBM traffic, SNA applications, ethernet and Eftpos systems.

The network has been designed by network integrator Datacraft to exceed Farmers’ requirement of 99.98% availability. Each store has a Cisco router installed, with multiple routers at Farmers’ Laidlaw Way support centre in South Auckland providing redundancy. A similar configuration will be installed at an Auckland disaster recovery site to provide additional backup.

Where Farmers has stores and buildings grouped in close proximity it has implemented 802.11b wireless connections with 128-bit encryption between the buildings. The land-based WAN connection goes into one building which links to the others using Cisco Aironet ethernet bridges.

The network will be centrally managed by Datacraft from its Wellington-based Insite centre.

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