Castlemaine trims fat off

Ham, bacon and smallgoods manufacturer Castlemaine Bacon is trimming the fat when it comes to workstation upgrades, by rolling out a server-based IT infrastructure.

With its head office in regional Victoria and depots in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Albury, Castlemaine has installed MetaFrame software from Citrix Systems and Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, replacing Novell Netware 4.1.

David Straw, network and communications manager, Castlemaine, said he had considered other solutions, but pretty quickly settled on Citrix technology.

The primary reason behind Castlemaine's decision to deploy MetaFrame was to maximise hardware investment.

"We wanted to get off the treadmill of having to upgrade our machines constantly," Straw said. "Until recently, we were faced with a situation where we had to keep investing money into upgrades just to keep the workstations up to date. These days, you buy a computer, and in two years' time, nobody wants it because it is too slow. And you can't keep customers waiting on the phone while your PC catches up."

Desktops to which applications will be deployed include a mix of diskless workstations and Pentium PCs.

"A lot of our workstations don't have hard drives, as traditionally most of our users booted straight off the network. It makes it easier for us to maintain the PCs and ensures we have standard software and interfaces for all users. We will be continuing this environment with MetaFrame software, using bootable network cards in about 80 to 90 per cent of our workstations," Straw said.

Another reason for implementing MetaFrame was to achieve centralised control of applications and data, he said, explaining that sharing files between disparate sites via ISDN had been time consuming and inefficient.

Metaframe runs on two Compaq 3000 Pentium 333s as primary servers, with two Compaq 1600 Pentium 400 cluster servers and an e-mail server.

The solution went live late last year, following a successful pilot in early 1998.

It is currently supporting most word processing, spread sheets and mail, Straw said.

Castlemaine is gradually adding other office applications to MetaFrame, and the system will be the backbone of a new JBA System 21 ERP solution, due to go live mid year.

Straw said the company is considering replacing ISDN links to depots with frame relay for cost reasons.

Within head office, Castlemaine runs a mix of fibre backbone, thin Ethernet and UTP.

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