Orica inks $4.8m networking contract

Melbourne-based global chemical manufacturer Orica has entered into a two-year, $4.8 million contract with AT&T for IP VPN services across its international sites, ousting a number of regional providers.

The new global network will incorporate AT&T's Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology, connecting 135 Orica locations, and is designed to support the company's $10 million SAP consolidation project.

Orica's IT services manager, Leigh Rowe, said with the "globalizing" of IT there are many challenges in providing a global IT infrastructure to support it.

"It's hard to globalize because of the different regions," Rowe said, adding the company required a global WAN.

Rowe said AT&T was always willing to "listen to alternatives" and would "put alternatives on the table". Other bidders for the contract included Telstra, BT, and Optus, Rowe said.

"We went global and Telstra just doesn't have a global network," he said, adding Orica is an Optus customer for its local network. "The internal network is Optus and that won't change but will be managed by ATT. We still spend quite a bit of money with Telstra in remote areas where Telstra is the only player."

Rowe said there is potential for VoiP but Orica is only doing trials with the technology and is not "gung ho" about it, but "the new network will allow it but was not a driving part of the deal".

Orica's IT shared services director, David Vranes, said AT&T was selected ahead of "several global competitors" because of the company's global reach and long-term experience in the delivery of IP-based solutions."

According to AT&T, the deal will enable more effective communications at Orica's headquarters, manufacturing facilities, and sales offices globally, and provide secure, high-speed connectivity for "fast and easy access" to its online applications.

The deal marks another milestone for AT&T's burgeoning local business which is operating in a greenfield environment, unlike its incumbent US parent.

Managing director of AT&T Australia and New Zealand Jeyan Jeevaratnam said since the company started going direct to the enterprise market four years ago it has grown from 20 to 160 people and driven a lot of value-based competition. AT&T now claims 430 customers in Australia, including big names like Arnott's and SKM consulting.

"In order to win we have to be price competitive but in many cases customers are paying more for better service," Jeevaratnam said. "Our network covers 127 countries and delivers the same class of service from Alaska to Auckland."

According to Jeevaratnam, AT&T is also bucking the outsourcing bandwagon but establishing its support and project management operations for the Asia Pacific region in Sydney.

"Our main implementation hub is in Sydney when most have theirs in India," he said.

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