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Managed network gives edge to outdoor clothing maker

Running applications globally prompted clothing maker Helly Hansen to try something different. The Norwegian company went with managed Private IP from Verizon.

Survival, work and sport -- those are the three key taglines for Helly Hansen's line of action-ready clothing. Essentially, the company wants folks to be able to adapt to and conquer their surroundings, whatever they may be.

But it takes a great deal more than a warm and rugged winter coat to conquer a huge, distributed international network catering to more than 700 end users in 17 countries around the world.

For three years, Helly Hansen used an MPLS network to connect the company's Norway headquarters to its various branches, including distribution centers and sales offices. It was all well and good, company CIO Einar Lonnum said, but the growing business needed to leverage its network to facilitate expansion.

After some research, Helly Hansen came upon managed Private IP from Verizon Business. Private IP puts all network traffic on a private network with Quality of Service (QoS) routing and allows for hybrid solutions between public and private networks.

The company went with the managed IP approach for "peace of mind," Lonnum said. A managed network helps with service-level agreements and a help desk that monitors the WAN lines 24/7. That helps Helly Hansen ensure the network is running at all hours.

The deployment involved installing two routers and dual access lines.

The majority of Helly Hansen's applications are run out of Norway, according to Lonnum. Applications such as ERP, forecasting, and duty management systems are vital.

"Just to run daily operations is critical for us," he said. "All of our business relies on this network. If the network [were] not available to us, even for a couple of minutes, we would be in trouble."

The new Private IP MPLS network, which went live Aug. 23, lets Helly Hanson prioritize videoconferencing traffic, keeping the necessary application running real-time.

Lonnum said video used to be based on the ISDN, but that was unreliable on the old MPLS network. There are still ISDN lines to critical locations available for a worst-case scenario, but so far they haven't been needed. Helly Hansen uses videoconferencing for regular reviews and meetings.

"We can't afford to travel around the world all of the time," Lonnum said, noting that videoconferencing saves the time and money needed to travel to Hong Kong for a two-hour meeting.

"It really makes a difference having a face-to-face meeting instead of [talking] over the telephone," he said.

Helly Hansen is only just dabbling with VoIP, Lonnum said, but the company is planning a deployment either later this year or sometime next year. Some departments in the headquarters are using VoIP, but only a few.

Still, he said, the company's new network is ready for VoIP and should make the rollout much easier.

Overall, Lonnum said, the Private IP network doubled Helly Hansen's capacity at half the price of its former network.

"We should spend our time making great clothing and footwear," he said, "not worrying about how the network is running."

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