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Expert Advice: Fujisawa gets more bang for the buck with an IP VPN

Jul 07, 20043 mins

* Fujisawa switched frame relay for IP VPN without higher prices

If your company is planning to replace an aging frame-relay network with IP VPN services, consider the experience of Fujisawa, a Japanese pharmaceutical company that has chosen Sprint to support its 30 offices in Asia, Europe and North America.

I recently interviewed Fujisawa’s IT executives (through a translator) to find out why the research-driven drug manufacturer decided to get rid of a frame-relay network supplied by MCI/WorldCom and install IP VPN services from Sprint.

This is the second in an occasional series of newsletters that feature interviews with corporate network executives offering advice about purchasing IP services. In May, I interviewed GlobalStar executives about the challenges they face providing robust IP services in far-flung locations (see link below).

Fujisawa executives had two main goals for their network upgrade: First, they wanted a high-speed, reliable network that could support their global business; and second, they didn’t want to spend any more money on their new IP VPN than they already spent on frame-relay services.

“It was necessary to put into practice a network that is three-to-four times faster than before with the same running cost, network redundancy and back-up lines as well as sites,” Fujisawa explained. “A high-speed reliable global network is vital in order to collect precise security data and report that information promptly to [government agencies including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration].”

Another concern of Fujisawa executives was to select a financially viable ISP. “The bankruptcy of WorldCom in the U.S. troubled us,” Fujisawa executives admitted.

Previously, Fujisawa had used frame-relay services provided by MCI/WorldCom, ranging in speed from 64K bit/sec to 128K bit/sec. The old frame-relay network connected 23 sites in North America, Europe and Asia.

With its new network, Fujisawa wanted global services at an affordable price as well as global technical support of the network in Japan, the U.S. and Europe. Six ISPs bid on the Fujisawa network upgrade.

“Sprint had the best performance in terms of overall balance, global support and coordination,” Fujisawa said. “We once considered using a Japanese carrier such as NTT or KDDI because our head office is in Japan, however, [those ISPs had] a lack of full global support especially in Europe and the U.S.”

Fujisawa has rolled out Sprint’s IP VPN services at 30 offices worldwide in support of 7,000 users. Sprint has connected Fujisawa offices in Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Ireland, Germany, the U.K., France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the U.S. Transition to the new Sprint network was completed late last year.

Fujisawa signed a two-year contract with Sprint and says it is paying the same amount of money on its new network as on its old frame-relay service. However, the extra bandwidth is allowing Fujisawa to run a new document management system that will be used for the approval of new medicines by government agencies.

So what can you learn from the Fujisawa experience? In today’s buyers’ market, you can get a higher-speed, more reliable global network for the same cost if you switch from frame-relay to an IP VPN. And the benefit of that purchase will go straight to your bottom line.

“We view this secure VPN solution as a critical tool to gain operational efficiency and grow our business,” Fujisawa IT Manager Hiro Atsumaru, said in a statement.