The Royal College of Physicians is poised to go live with high-density networking switches from Allied Telesyn, in a move to break a two-year replacement cycle for networking equipment.
The College anticipates that the investment will slash 20 per cent off the annual cost of its network over the "next few years", as it pre-empts a dramatic surge in bandwidth and network demand.
Richard Green, IT and network manager at the College, told vnunet.com that the investment is part of an overall IT strategy to offer scalable technology to cut costs.
"The most visible problem was that we were running out of ports and needed something with higher port density," he explained.
"Bandwidth requirements at the centre of the network were also becoming an issue, with peak usage at about 60 per cent.
"Over the years, we keep going through this loop: we run out of capacity, so we throw out the technology and get a bigger solution.
"I wanted something that was more future proof, would scale and would deal with new applications as they arose."
The increase in bandwidth requirements is being driven by dramatic growth in the number of users, devices and new applications, together with plans for a series of digital imaging projects across the College.
Green admitted that a project to upgrade from Windows NT to Windows 2000 had also driven the decision.
"We don't need major bandwidth for everything," said Green. "We wanted to move the major servers onto Gigabit Ethernet, but it would have been pointless to do that for others such as the fax servers. All of this allows us to keep our costs down."
Despite making it to a shortlist of four, which also included Cisco and Intensys, the College's existing supplier, 3Com, was rejected.
"We invested a lot in some 3Com equipment then they pulled the plug," explained Green. "We still had support but it didn't give us a warm feeling about the supplier."
He added that the Allied Telesyn offering was 30 per cent cheaper than the other products on the shortlist.
"Value for money swung the deal - the upfront cost as well as the cost of maintaining and managing the equipment. On the other deals that was an additional cost and here it was built in," said Green.
The College is Allied Telesyn's first enterprise customer as the networking company attempts to make a move on the middle to high-end market, which Green admitted presented an element of risk.
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