New network from SAS Global Communications helps Bon Bon Buddies meet seasonal peaks in demand

London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, has announced the completion of an international project to upgrade the communications and network infrastructure of Bon Bon Buddies, a supplier of confectionary and biscuits featuring children’s characters such as Sponge Bob Square Pants, Dr Who, Bratz, Scooby Doo and many Disney favourites. The project, which involved the installation of a new robust wide area network (WAN) covering the company’s four sites in the UK and France, has enabled Bon Bon Buddies to dramatically improve communication links between its offices, and for remote workers accessing central applications.

Since its formation in 1993, Bon Bon Buddies has grown from just two people, selling in the UK, to a staff of 100 delivering character confectionary to major retailers across Europe. In the last two years alone the company has more than doubled in size. As a result of this rapid expansion the company needed to significantly improve its communication links between sites, particularly since the majority of its IT infrastructure, including its email servers, was centrally managed in the UK. In addition, the company has just implemented Microsoft’s Navision accounting software centrally and needed to ensure that its remote sites and home working staff would have reliable and fast access to the application; something that is especially important in the months leading up to the Christmas and Easter periods, when Bon Bon Buddies is at its busiest.
SAS had previously supported Bon Bon Buddies on a number of projects – in 2004 it installed a public internet VPN, and in 2005 it set up a home worker infrastructure to connect remote users to the main company network. More recently, in 2006, it implemented a greenfield infrastructure for Bon Bon Buddies when the company moved its French sales office to Arras. SAS was perhaps an obvious choice then for the company’s latest infrastructure project.

SAS designed and project managed the installation of a BT MPLS WAN, creating a secure private network that linked Bon Bon Buddies’ headquarters and distribution centres in Wales, its French office in Arras and distribution centre in Lille, as well as its remote workers. The WAN is terminated with Cisco routers configured for assured forwarding; this guarantees class of service (CoS) for Navision by giving it priority over other network applications. Now, all employees can work on one system and one database. This gives the company real-time visibility of the whole business and effectively streamlines its processes.

“Things can get very hectic here in the months leading up to the Christmas and Easter seasons” said Andrew Gorvett, head of IT at Bon Bon Buddies. “With an ever increasing range of innovative products and more new contracts than ever before, we need to be productive every minute of the day. It is therefore crucial that our communication links are up to speed and able to cope with these seasonal rushes, otherwise we could run into logistical difficulties and potentially lose orders.”

Ahead of the installation, SAS researched the best technology options for each location. It decided to retain the existing VPN infrastructure, reconfiguring it as a failover network. SAS also implemented Microsoft Exchange 2003 for email connectivity, installing a Cisco PIX to guarantee security and reliability across the whole network. SAS Global Communications continues to support Bon Bon Buddies communications network through its helpdesk.

“For businesses like Bon Bon Buddies that rely on their ability to meet static deadlines and effectively manage their supply chain, reliable and robust connectivity is critical,” said Charles Davis, CEO of SAS Global Communications. “When working on such contracts across multiple offices this can become even more challenging as distribution processes must be integrated and accessible in real-time from all locations. Tackling the challenge with a resilient private network goes a long way to solving these headaches.”

Later this year Bon Bon Buddies will be relocating its head office and plans to implement IP telephony. Thanks to SAS, the new infrastructure is already in place to support the next stage in the company’s evolution.

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