Mission extends WAN to branches

A wide area network (WAN) installed at Mission Australia subsidiary Mission Employment is extending into other branches of the charity organisation to increase efficiency and productivity.

According to Eric Chant, Mission Australia's head of IT, the network, which now supports 760 Mission Employment users, is being expanded to reach 1800 users throughout Mission Australia by the end of the year.

While not revealing the total cost of the project and only admitting "it was a lot", Chant said: "The initial phase of the job network is to extend out to all the other shelters and activities."

Mission Australia, comprising the Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth City Missions, is a non-profit charity organisation which provides social services including employment and youth services throughout Australia.

Chant said 90 hubs and around 85 routers will support the upgraded network, which also incorporates 600 servers and 1000 PCs.

One of 300 employment service providers in the federal government's national Job Network scheme, Mission Employment used funding from the government as the initial "impetus" for the installation of the frame relay WAN.

Up and running since Job Network went live on May 1 this year, the network was designed and implemented by solutions integrator Memorex Telex over a four-week period. It is expected Memorex Telex will manage the network upgrade.

Kevin Regan, account manager at Memorex Telex, said due to the demanding time frame of the initial project, Mission Employment required a scalable and reliable network that could support offices with as many as twenty staff members or as few as two.

Regan said while most of the sites, including the central site in Sydney, run over frame relay, some regional sites are connected via ISDN links.

According to Regan, Mission Employment's network has been crucial to the organisation's success in the highly criticised Job Network scheme, which has seen some agencies close.

"The efficiency of the national network was crucial for maximising [Mission Employment's] success," Regan said. "Now the network has proved more crucial than first thought."

Regan said the network has improved inter-office communications and file sharing, as well as cut fax and phone costs through the use of intranet messaging. Users from 88 offices across all states have access to the job database, e-mail and centralised payroll, finance and human resource applications for improved productivity.

According to Chant, December will see Mission Australia finalise its back-end Oracle servers in an attempt to set up an Oracle database which will speed up job transaction rates for fast retrieval and real-time job placement.

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