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Mole Valley Farmers

Mole Valley Farmers benefits from our ethernet wide area network (WAN) as the main technology used to deploy a resilient and scalable network to link their 50+ geographically-spread sites and to integrate their new ERP solution.


Mole Valley Farmers was established in 1960 by a small group of farmers from the South Molton area in Devon. Since then, Mole Valley Farmers has grown organically and through the acquisition of complementary companies. Their brands include SCATS Country Stores, Mole Valley Farm Select, Mole Valley Feed Solutions and Mole Country Stores. The group employs 1,600+ people working out of 50+ mills, plants and stores in the UK supplying a vast range of farming, equine, gardening, home, tool and pet care goods to farmers and the public alike.


Accommodate Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP solution
Having already linked the many elements of Mole Valley’s business with a cohesive, secure and resilient WAN solution that terminated in swcomms’ data centre in 2008, they sought further advice from us when they were considering an upgrade. Mole Valley needed a more sophisticated solution to accommodate their new Microsoft Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning (ERP) business management solution and to prepare for the possibility of a future VoIP telephone system deployment. Both solutions would require more bandwidth, lower latency and enhanced connectivity.


Mole Valley required full resilience to prevent any loss of service. Security and 24/7 availability remained central to their needs as connectivity is paramount for efficient stock control, production and distribution.
 

The original interconnectivity solution included the use of MPLS to link the mill sites to the data centre, leased lines for head office and VPN technology to enable the retail outlets to efficiently relay their point of sale information back to HQ and to allow secure connectivity between sites over the internet. The data centre also provided all of Mole Valley Farmers’ internet services.


The upgraded WAN solution used a hierarchical topology and routing technologies, such as DMVPN, EIGRP and BGP, to enable easy growth of the existing network and to propel Mole Valley’s IT infrastructure into the future while linking sites in even the hardest to reach geographical locations. swcomms’ data centre has remained a central part of the new connectivity solution, as well as our own ethernet cloud service.


This offers layer 3 carrier services to meet our customers’ demand for accountability and speed of resolution, and to alleviate the frustrations caused by the reliance on third party carriers and their inflexible work principles. Our ethernet cloud has 800+ points of presence throughout the UK and is managed by us at layer 2, meaning our customers enjoy a more comprehensive carrier-level level of service as we have complete responsibility for IP addressing, routing protocols, QoS requirements, day-to-day running, fault response & clearance, and management & reporting. low latency and maximum uptime.
 

Ethernet high speed links have now replaced the MPLS circuits. swcomms has full end to end administration and advanced management of these circuits and our engineers have complete visibility of all circuits and traffic flow on a 24/7/365 basis. This has facilitated a group-wide connection to Mole Valley’s new ERP business management solution and data storage to streamline the way the business operates on a day to day basis and to help them respond to fast-changing business conditions.


Meanwhile, Mole Valley’s IT department benefits from enhanced provisioning with a dedicated mailbox direct to our staff for instant order confirmation and fast track carrier orders. A senior project manager oversees all installations on a daily basis. They also benefit from a management web portal to monitor network uptime, bandwidth utilisation, traffic flow and any configuration change history.


Resilient network
Multiple leased lines of varying bandwidths create a high throughput resilient network. Up to 1Gbps ethernet access direct circuits connect the two HQ offices and data centre in triangulation. This core leased line design gives Mole Valley the ability to host services at each of the three locations in order to maximise redundancy. An MPLS network with DSL tails was provided to many of Mole Valley’s shop locations. Private DSL is also utilised on a failover basis for larger shops and offices as an alternative to the primary leased lines.


Internet access is channelled via the data centre to provide protection against breaches of security and malicious attack. End user web access is then proxied and protected by Cisco ASA PCI compliant failover firewalls. The added benefit is that web access can be easily flexed depending on future requirements centrally. Having a central point offering Internet access rather than individual links at multiple offices has centralised web security and made compliance to standards such as PCI DSS easier to implement and maintain.


It also simplifies the deployment and monitoring of employee web usage policy, providing Mole Valley with the tools to monitor and manage employee web use. Head office web access also has the ability to failover between the two HQ locations if required.


Video conferecing and VoIP-ready
Video conferencing has been facilitated by the exceptional low latency and QoS provided by the ethernet WAN. HD multi-party and point to point video conferencing suites have been installed at Mole Valley’s headquarters and a number of other sites to cut travel costs, enhance productivity and enable the management team to make quick business decisions. This has resulted in a rapid ROI with further savings achievable in the future. Using the network for data and video has ensured that Mole Valley has truly leveraged their investment. The nature of the network, with its low latency and high speed connections, means real-time applications, such as VoIP, can be deployed to deliver measurable improvements in communication.


Ongoing platinum support provides the total care 24/7/365 support required of a mission-critical network that needs to be operational at all times. If engineers are unable to fix the problem remotely, a skilled field engineer will attend the site within four hours.


Arron Watson, head of IT, said: “The business has worked with swcomms for a number of years and during that time they have become Mole Valley Farmers’ trusted network provider. From a personal point of view, I know swcomms is just a phone call away should I require any assistance or need to report an issue. “I have a good relationship with our account manager and the networks team, and I trust their expertise implicitly. I would have no hesitation in recommending swcomms to other large, multi-site businesses and organisations.”
 

 

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