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The Networking challenge

The ePipe solution

Customer Story: RAAF Association of Western Australia

RAAFA logo 6KAbout The RAAF Association

The RAAF Association (RAAFA ) operates a network of retirement villages and aged care facilities in Western Australia. As with any organisation with multiple sites, RAAFA faced the challenge of networking these sites together and distributing applications throughout the operation.
Lake Howard, 20KLeft: The RAAFA’s Dean Lodge reitrement village fronting Lake Howard in Perth, WA
Perth-based systems integrator De Gruyter Haine was approached to deliver a solution. To minimise the administration overhead, a thin client solution was chosen, running Windows Terminal Server and Microsoft Exchange Server running on an Intel-based server in the head office. RAAFA also invested in KCS, a specialised accounting solution for Aged Care facilities, which is distributed to each of the facilities over casual-dial-up connections.

The Networking Challenge

De Gruyter Haine quickly realised that casual dial-up connections would not give RAAFA the performance they needed to deploy the solution efficiently. “The performance of KCS over a single dial-up connection was as slow as knitting jumpers,” commented Steve Appleton, technical director with De Gruyter Haine.
Another problem RAAFA experienced with their dial-up links was line drop-out. “A resident (often frail-aged) would come to the office to pay an account. The office worker would enter the payment into the system, but before a receipt could be printed, the line would drop out. It often took several minutes to complete a transaction. The resulting delays resulted in poor customer service and low work productivity. We had to find an alternative,” he added.
De Gruyter Haine researched several alternatives, all of which involved an outlay of tens of thousands of dollars in infrastructure and telecommunications charges. De Gruyter Haine then considered ePipe.

The ePipe Solution

Because of the relatively low-bandwidth demands of the thin-client based solution, an ePipe 2148 was placed in the office of each site, with two dial-up connections used to communicate with the head office. The links share the traffic load, but when a large print run is being processed, the second link is still available for keyboard and terminal traffic. RAAFA also purchased the Direct Connection Services (DCS) feature set with each ePipe unit, enabling the direct dial connections between each site.

“The difference in performance was immediate and striking. By separating the types of traffic between two dial-up connections, the slow response times became a thing of the past. However, the real advantage was the way ePipe handled the multiple connections. If a line did drop out, ePipe transparently re-established it without any intervention by staff,” Appleton said.

RAAFA diag, 18K

Beyond these performance advantages, there was an even bigger benefit to implementing ePipe across the network. “By eliminating the need for ISDN, I estimate that ePipe has already saved RAAFA over $100,000 in telecommunications costs alone. Moreover, because ePipe works so well with standard dial-up connections, these savings are increasing all the time. It has been the perfect solution to RAAFA’s needs,” Appleton said.


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