The old ways of using dial-up modems to transfer data are past history for Physician Sales & Service/World Medical Inc. A new Wide Area Network (WAN) based on Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology supplied by FORE Systems, largely improves the performance of a variety of applications between PSS/World Medical's headquarters and its 87 branch locations. Additionally, the moving of its voice traffic over ATM is trimming the monthly long distance costs by no less than 30 percent for this distributor of medical, diagnostic and imaging equipment and products. Remote training facilities and teleconferencing for companywide meetings are future implementing tools of this high-performance network.
The new distributed computing environment provided by FORE's ATM WAN network supports everything from rapid file transfers to wireless sales applications as well as electronic data interchange (EDI) required by the major manufacturers PSS/Word Medical is representing. Customer service needs are dealt with by upgrading the performance of consolidated reporting, remote ordering, fulfilment and shipping. The operating costs of this newly installed network amount to $180.000 a month but are compensated with a $100.000 savings in monthly long distance phone charges. Payback on the entire investment will be achieved in less than nine months.
PSS/World Medical's network utilises FORE's ForeRunner ASX-1000 ATM backbone switch to link the company's corporate data centre and local area network (LAN) to an ATM wide area backbone provided by AT&T. The headquarters' Lucent PBX system is connected via FORE's VoicePlus circuit emulation services (CES) module. The ASX-1000 is linked to the AT&T ATM cloud over two DS3 lines, each running at 45 Mbps. A T-1 trunk line establishes the connection between the 87 branch locations and the ATM WAN backbone through FORE's CellPath 90 WAN multiplexer.
At present, only half of the ASX-1000's capacity is used, according to Brian Finley, director of voice and data for PSS/World Medical. This leaves room for future expansion towards distance learning multimedia facilities for employee training with the elimination of travel time and costs for sales personnel as a major advantage. Furthermore, the personal contact between managers and field people will be consolidated via teleconferencing modalities over the network in 'face-to-face' meetings. No doubt PSS/World Medical enjoys great satisfaction exploring the best of both worlds in the use of their cost reducing but customer service boosting network.