Nissan trades in its dealer network

Nissan Australia this week finally kissed goodbye its original X.25 dealer network for a faster solution that Web-enables the organisation.

Based on ATM, ISDN and frame relay technologies from IBM, the new network spans Nissan's corporate headquarters, disaster recovery centre, 12 corporate offices and 192 dealerships.

The company has installed an ATM switched network, comprising IBM 8265 Nways ATM switches and 8271 Ethernet LAN switches at the head office and disaster recovery centre, with a Frame Relay network at the remaining corporate sites and an ISDN network connecting dealerships.

According to Sam Chilvers, Nissan's IT project manager, the network provides for greater online possibilities at the company.

Chilvers said although the old X.25 network "worked fine" and was reliable, it was "very limited" in functionality. "The reason we put IP [technology] out to the dealers [was because] the amount of functionality increased one hundredfold," he said.

With the new network, Nissan Australia has introduced a Web-based intranet, providing published information such as dealer bulletins, training information, faxes, manuals and a discussion database. According to Chilvers, dealership have been placing orders electronically for close to five years.

He said in the future the company has plans for multimedia applications including video training to run on the network.

"Multimedia is not really possible at the moment, because of the 64-bit connection to dealers; but as costs come down for bandwidth . . . going to TCP/IP opens up the possibilities to that in the future," he said.

Chilvers said the IBM network was implemented earlier this year following a tender process around 18 months ago.

According to Chilvers, designing and a building a network that would support all the dealerships was a challenge.

"We are trying to provide a network that is easy for dealers to upgrade to," Chilvers said, adding that dealerships running old networks will be supported on the new network until the end of the year.

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