IBM in global Gigabit Ethernet upgrade

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IBM in global Gigabit Ethernet upgrade

Global LAN and WAN refresh on the cards.

IBM has revealed plans to refresh local and wide area networks across its entire global footprint to bring Gigabit Ethernet speeds to the Big Blue workforce.

The global initiative, to be rolled out by the Solutions division of AT&T (formerly IBM's Network Services Group), hasn't yet moved beyond the planning stage but was expected to result in a replacement of WAN and LAN switches and routers over the next 18 months.

Steve Godbee, chief information officer at IBM Australia said at a roundtable today that within 18 months, most routers, switches and other equipment in the network will be GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) capable.

"It's a future-proofing exercise," he later told iTnews.

In Australia, IBM and AT&T have agreed to predominantly roll out switches and routers from Cisco Systems, but Godbee said IBM will not necessarily align exclusively with Cisco in other territories.

Godbee said IBM Australia's existing Ethernet network is some six years old.

WLAN Refresh

The Ethernet upgrade is the third major networking refresh at IBM Australia in three years.

This week, IBM Australia expects to roll out the final few access points on an enterprise-wide Wireless LAN network upgrade - again using Cisco Systems kit.

The new WLAN will provide blanket coverage and uniform policies across all of IBM's Australian operations.

It will comprise of 400+ Cisco Systems access points, managed by Cisco's Wireless Controller management device.

Godbee said today that the company has only two smaller sites in Queensland to connect  - which represents around 15 access points - after which IBM Australia staff should be enjoying a "smarter, more intelligent" wireless network.

It would provide secure access to IBM's intranet for IBM employees via a password-protected log-in, and public internet access to visitors such as customers and business partners, he said.

IBM Australia previously had multiple WLAN systems - which created security risks and also difficulties in terms of the handover between networks as staff moved around IBM's locations.

The new network will enable staff to "move around floors and the signal won't die," Godbee said.

The refresh was also expected to help IBM crack down on rogue access points within its network. Previously, network administrators would need to manually run war drives through IBM offices to detect unofficial access points set up by staff.

The enterprise-wide WLAN has been set up to triangulate data from any three access points to determine the location of any rogue IP device.

MPLS

The upgraded LAN, WAN and WLAN at IBM Australia will connect with the world via Telstra's MPLS network.

IBM previously ran its own point to point network, but migrated to Telstra's MPLS network in 2007.

The MPLS network allows IBM's IT department to order capacity on Telstra's network as required rather than being expected to build its own links between data centres.

"From a CEO and CIO perspective, we want to move to a 'just-in-time' model," Godbee said. "We can't afford to be holding onto extra broadband capacity on a "just-in-case' basis.

Godbee said MPLS had proved a great solution.

"Overnight we had a thirty percent reduction in telecommunications expenses," he said.

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