Major networking players are pushing converged communications services at the moment. Microsoft is busy developing its unified communications, while Cisco and Avaya are also marketing their products.
One Italian manufacturing company has chosen to use one of its peripheral concerns as a test bed for converged communications. Colacem, a company principally involved in the manufacture of concrete, also owns the Misano World Circuit, a race track, near Rimini, Italy. It has implemented a converged communications system from Cisco. ZDNet.co.uk takes a look behind the scenes to find out about the system.
Misano World Circuit, a racetrack near Rimini, is being used as test bed for a series of communications products. The circuit uses network infrastructure routing and switches, a wireless mesh network, a wireless LAN, video and IP telephony and security software, all from Cisco, to provide communications to staff and the public.
In the circuit safety control centre, images from 20 fixed and six movable cameras are used to monitor the track and crowd. During competitions, every image is recorded onto servers within the room. According to circuit director Maurizio Damerini, their primary concern is crowd safety. The track has 25km of fibre optic cabling and 50km of copper cables for communications.
Andrea Coccia, the chief information officer of Colacem, told ZDNet.co.uk that the system cost about €300,000 for the whole project. While the circuit represents less than one percent of Colacem's turnover, the company wanted to test the technology outside of its core business. "The facility is not so spread — we don't need unified communications in theory here — but for a global company it has a different meaning," said Coccia, who added that the company would not pay for the technology with direct turnover from it. However, the company planned to capitalise on marketing opportunities afforded by access to circuit customer mobile devices.
The circuit has a media room with 312 places for journalists, plus support for wired and wireless internet connections. The Wi-Fi network can support up to 150 users uploading photographs thanks to 8MB upstream bandwidth. The media room is linked to the control centre and the internet, allowing race telematics to be made available in real time.
The switch centre is the main core of the circuit's infrastructure, according to Renzo Rossi, Colacem's ICT infrastructure manager. It connects to the internet via IP and ISDN, and links to the wireless concentrator. The system is replicated to be redundant. "It's absolutely redundant — we can completely switch from one to the other," said Rossi.
According to Tim Stone [not pictured], Cisco unified communications marketing manager, the technology used at Misano is applicable in different verticals, including manufacturing, banking, and retail. Rossi said that he had encountered some minor technical problems in implementing the technology, which he did not want to comment on further. Rossi's main problem had been how to overcome the essential differences between IT implementation in concrete manufacturing and for motor-racing circuits.