Lakeland Dairies invests in IT network to boost innovation

20 Sep 2010

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Lakeland Dairies has invested in a new network infrastructure that will provide it with a platform for continued advances in product development and distribution.

The company ha signed a major deal with network provider Kedington Group to deliver the new network.

Lakeland Dairies operates in a 15-county catchment area in the northern half of Ireland. The company’s five locations house manufacturing, product development, sales and marketing, and administrative operations.

It’s not unusual for a company as large and innovative as Lakeland Dairies to have geographically dispersed offices. It is rare for such a company to be based in a rural area that offers limited access to high-speed internet service.

“Given our rural locations, our bandwidth was inadequate, 2Mbps at most, unreliable, and quite expensive,” explains Gerry Forde, IT operations manager.

Server farming

“It’s not an option for us to move locations, it’s extremely beneficial to be near the source of our raw materials, ie, the farm. We had great confidence that Kedington would design and build the network infrastructure required by critical technologies, such as virtualisation, disaster recovery and unified communication. Kedington delivered a network that supports fast, reliable communications that will increase the pace of future product innovation.”

Lakeland had moved to a virtualised server environment running Windows Server 2008 R2 (Hyper-V), centralising all critical business applications in its main data centre in Killeshandra.

The group also realised the importance of having a rapid, efficient and secure disaster recovery infrastructure made possible by the robust WAN provided by Kedington.

Kedington Group immediately realised that a state-of-the-art network infrastructure would have to be built from scratch.

“Together with Invisible Link, we began by identifying line-of-sight connections at high points around Lakeland Dairy’s area of operations and negotiating space on masts,” says Adrian Sadlier, sales manager at Kedington Group.

“We then partnered with Invisible Link (to build out the microwave wireless WAN) and DigiWeb (for ISP services and further WAN links which connect to international locations, including current business locations in the UK).

“The LANs and WAN were upgraded and we completed a move to HP/3Com infrastructure providing a very cost-effective solution,” Sadlier added.

Bandwidth

The result is a network infrastructure that provides 100Mbps of highly reliable bandwidth between Lakeland sites supporting the new centralised environment.

With requisite backup links and no single points of failure, operations, communications and data access are assured for all Lakeland Dairies’ locations.

“This isn’t something we could have accomplished on our own, at least not in a time frame that would benefit the business,” says Turlough Farrelly, IT manager.

“Kedington negotiated on our behalf, dealt with the licensing of microwave technology, identified and contracted with an ISP, and completed major network upgrading while our internal IT staff kept current operations moving.

“The network infrastructure we now have in place provides a foundation on which we can build and deliver a range of new technologies and services to our key stakeholders. We now plan to roll out an internal wireless infrastructure on all sites, interconnected over the new WANs,” Farrelly said.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com