Gran Kommune Adopts a New Class of Switch with the Launch of the Cisco Catalyst Express 500
Norwegian School is First European Small-to-Medium Sized Business Switching Customer
September 19, 2005
By Jason Deign, News@Cisco
The idea that using the latest switch from Cisco Systems® is child's play was confirmed when a school became the first site in Europe to install it.
The Catalyst® Express 500, the first Cisco switch aimed specifically at the small-to-medium business (SMB) and small-site market, debuted this month at Solvang primary school in the Gran Kommune (community) municipality of Norway, around 70 kilometers away from Oslo, the capital.
The switch will support a converged environment providing IP telephony, Internet and e-mail connections for the school, over the regional broadband network, and will enable the delivery of critical exam information for up to 200 students at the site plus online administration tools for teachers.
Although it was installed by the central IT department at Gran Kommune, the switch was chosen because it is tailor-made for the SMB market and small-site locations where staff may have little technical knowledge.
Its simplicity and ease of use meant it could be configured by school employees if necessary.
Gran Kommune, which encompasses 12 schools, three healthcare centers and four psychiatric nursing homes, was one of the first municipalities in Europe to introduce IP telephony across all local government sites, working with Cisco and its Norwegian Gold Certified partner Datametrix.
Tore Løvhaug, IT manager at Gran Kommune, believes the compact Catalyst Express 500 is ideally suited for the job of providing smart, simple and secure network services to the school.
"I think this is the best product for this school," he confirms. "It is cost-effective and reliable as well, living up to all our expectations. It needs to, because it is up and running 24 hours a day."
Løvhaug was pleased that the Catalyst Express 500 could be installed and configured quickly, securely and easily at the school using the new Cisco Network Assistant 3.0 network management and configuration tool, without having to rely on extensive knowledge of Command Line Interface commands.
Using this Web interface, Løvhaug was able to easily set up separate VLANs that will allow students and teachers to use the switch side-by-side without any danger of breaches of confidentiality.
He is considering installing further Catalyst Express 500 switches in other individual schools and similar stand-alone locations.
Situated in the southern part of Oppland, surrounding Lake Randsfjorden, Gran is the largest municipality in the Norwegian area of Hadeland.
Most people live in the southern part of the community, where three centers - Brandbu, Jaren and Gran - have a total of 5000 inhabitants. At the beginning of 2004 the population of the municipality was 13,100 inhabitants, spread over an area of 760 square kilometers.
Løvhaug led a project to convert all local government voice communication in Gran to IP telephony in 2003 and is in the process of installing a central Cisco CallManager software-based call processing platform housed in the municipal hall to act as an internal provider of telecommunications services to individual sites.
"Our strategy has been to base our infrastructure around Cisco technologies, enabling us to run telephony and data on the same network," Løvhaug says.
He is currently working with regional utility Hadeland Energi on the installation of an optical fiber network linking all municipal sites, to augment current broadband links.
Meanwhile the launch of the Cisco Catalyst 500, part of a major commitment from Cisco to provide business communications solutions designed specifically for small-site installations, has been recognized by industry analysts.
"Cisco's new solutions for SMB and mid-market customers will provide the integrated communications, connectivity and security infrastructure needed to grow and optimize their businesses," said Chris Barnard, Research Director at IDC Benelux.
"The added flexibility in financing and services will make it easier for these customers to invest in new technologies."
The latest products, which make up a package called the Cisco Business Communications Solution, lower the entry point for enterprise-quality voice and data networking technologies, making them suitable for many small businesses.
The Cisco Business Communications Solution is the industry's first smart, simple, and secure, integrated voice, video, data and wireless communications system designed and priced for SMBs, with an innovative systems approach that enables customers to grow and optimize their business.
Besides the Catalyst Express 500, the package comprises Cisco Network Assistant 3.0, which includes Cisco Smartports and a Smartports Advisor tool; Cisco Router and Security Device Manager; and CiscoWorks IP Communications Operations Manager 1.0 and Service Monitor 1.0.
Simple, all-in-one communication is provided by CallManager Express 3.3 call processing software, Cisco Unity Express 2.2 voicemail and auto attendant, Cisco Integrated Services Routers, a range of new Cisco IP Phones and Cisco VG224 Analog Phone Gateways.
Finally, there is a basic automatic call distributor for simple routing and customer care, aCisco CRM Communications Connector for customer service, various IP Phone-based applications and a tailored finance and support package.
Jason Deign is a freelance writer based in Barcelona, Spain.
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