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The local network is essential for smooth operation of the Colruyt Group’s shops. At every sales point – be it Colruyt, Bio-Planet or Dreamland – there is an increasing number of client devices on the cabled network: PCs, price scanners and till systems and also solar panels and the applications for temperature control in the fridges and freezers.
Off the market
Since 2006, use of the local network has evolved a lot. In order to be ready for future demands from the business – devices are always being added to the network – Colruyt was looking for a new solution for the routers and switches at the shops. “The existing switches were no longer available on the market,” says Wim Derijnck. “This had quite major consequences. If we started using different switches, a heterogenous park would automatically result in increased complexity and higher costs. We also wanted a solution that would be faster.” Colruyt therefore asked four parties to put together a proposal. The proposal from Proximus, based on Juniper technology, was eventually chosen.
Colruyt chose switches with routing functionality. The advantage of the solution is the fact that they are no longer location-dependent. Every shop is provided with two switch stacks in the server room, as well as six identical switches at the tills. “The large switches previously had to be as close as possible to the tills. This is no longer the case. We can simply place them in the server room. This means they are easier to access for the maintenance technicians. It’s also more secure.” Colruyt can then easily place small switches at the tills. “This delivers a saving in terms of cabling,” says Wim Derijnck. “These are also fanless devices. They make no noise and don’t have any moving parts, so they use less energy and break much less frequently.”
For the Colruyt IT department, the main advantage is in simpler management. “Although the devices are relatively far from each other, we can manage them as a single whole. No separate routers are needed. So we need fewer devices and only have to manage one configuration.” Throughout the project, Colruyt could rely on a close cooperation with Juniper and Proximus. Colruyt first implemented the solution in a test environment. An extensive test phase followed at a number of shops. Proximus engineers also provided support to the Colruyt IT team. Colruyt was able to rely on assistance from Proximus and Juniper in the start-up of the management system and development of the roll-out plan.
New shops – and shops carrying out a renovation – will be provided with the new switches first. The roll-out will begin in early 2015. Colruyt will also be relying on Juniper technology at its new distribution centre in Ollignies. Colruyt has storage space for 11,000 pallets here, spread over 11 floors and equipped with completely automated and robotised systems for order picking. In Ollignies, Colruyt is using a firewall and switches from Juniper.
Colruyt Group has around 600 Colruyt, Bio-Planet, Okay, Dreamland, Dreambaby and Spar shops in Belgium, Luxembourg and France.
Wim Derijnck is an electrical engineer. He works as Infrastructure Manager LAN at Colruyt Group. He has previously gained experience at Belnet, Level 3 and Banksys.
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