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Analysis of Huffman Trucking Telephone and Data Networks

Essay by   •  October 4, 2011  •  Case Study  •  3,478 Words (14 Pages)  •  2,063 Views

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Analysis of Huffman Trucking Telephone and Data Networks

Huffman Trucking has been a leader in transportation needs since 1963. The company currently operates hubs in California, Missouri, New Jersey, and Ohio with 1,400 employees. Huffman Trucking needs an efficient telephone and data network systems for all locations to keep up with the flexibility and changes of technology. Huffman Trucking requests a review of their current data network and telephone systems for all their locations per Service Request (SR-ht-010). An initial study of the current systems by Smith Consulting concludes company-wide changes and upgrades are essential in maintaining data integrity and ease of use. The company must leverage technology to provide incomparable customer service and business competence to be a profitable and growing company. Upgrading the data and communication systems to current technology trends within Huffman will make sure growth plans will be met. Huffman's mission is to be "a profitable, growing, adaptive company in an aggressive logistical services industry environment. Communication systems need improvement, as the company's estimation plan for growth in revenue is 12% in the next three to five years. In addition, Huffman requests a cost proposal with system recommendations.

Telephone Systems

Interpersonal communication is vital and currently each location at Huffman has a different setup of telephone systems. The California office has a business-class phone system for small businesses and consists of a PBX system with Intercom connected to the PSTN using analog trunk lines and use CAT 3 wiring. They have no voicemail or caller ID. The California plant has a VOIP system by Nortel and uses CAT 5 wiring. The two locations (plant and office) link using a POTS line to the PBX system. The Missouri office uses an Avaya digital phone system (not VoIP) and uses CAT 5 wiring. The Missouri plant has a simple setup with a phone connected at each working station using CAT 3 wiring. Both locations in New Jersey use a PBX phone system. The New Jersey office uses a PBX with Intercom connected to the PSTN using analog trunk lines and uses CAT 3 wiring (thick net), but no caller ID. The office has its PBX connect to the New Jersey plant using a POTS line and routes their PBX into a split-50 punch down block to a patch panel for distribution of resources. The Ohio office is set up much like New Jersey with an Avaya system in the office that connects to a Cisco 10mb hub and uses CAT 5 wiring. The Ohio plant has individual phones set up at each terminal and CAT 3 wiring, and uses POTS for their communication needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Huffman Trucking needs to address the telephone systems in all locations to ensure communication meets the needs of the company. Considerations of whether or not to use a standard PBX system currently in place in the California and New Jersey locations, or a hosted PBX system will be more effective. A PBX system is more of an investment compared to a hosted PBX system, which means a bigger investment. By implementing a hosted PBX phone system with flexible features, you can virtually communicate with your potential customers from anywhere at any convenient time (The VoIP Co, 2010). Disadvantages are each location has a different phone system, some are VoIP and the rest use older technology with no caller ID, no voicemail, and the offices and plants at each location connect on a local level.

Recommendations and Benefits

Huffman Trucking should move toward unifying all locations under one single system using the same phones and features as a company standard. Smith Consulting suggests the Missouri plant and Ohio plant upgrade to a VoIP system. The California office, New Jersey office, and New Jersey plant should upgrade to VoIP as well. The PHONEBOCHS® VoIP Telephony Server Appliance upgrade will require two at the Missouri location, and one at the Ohio location for redundancy. The PHONEBOCHS® phone system is a hybrid telephone system, and offers all the benefits of VoIP with the reliability of a PBX system. Businesses not ready to migrate fully to IP telephony make this system an extraordinary choice for cost savings of VoIP. This will permit complete voice and data communication solutions and features like voicemail, caller ID, headsets, daytime and after hour greetings, music for on-hold calls, transferring of calls on a national level, conference calling, a call center, and a support system by the manufacturer.

Protocols

Huffman's locations use out-of-date network systems and servers that use different network protocols for sending and retrieving data. Huffman originally set up the Missouri and Ohio locations with a Novell 4.11 operating system, which uses the IPX/SPX protocols. The IPX/SPX protocols are not compatible with the TCP/IP protocols therefore these two protocols cannot communicate with one another. Modification of these protocols is vital before the different locations can effectively communicate over the Internet. IPX is a Novell communications protocol used by NetWare clients and servers to deliver messages within and between networks. SPX ensures the reliable delivery of complete messages (Bacca & Willging, 2000).

The California and New Jersey offices have a bus topology with New Jersey possessing a bus topology (thick net), and both locations use the TCP/IP protocol. The California plant has an Ethernet Network for Administration/Operations, and uses the TCP/IP protocol as well. The Missouri and Ohio offices have a token ring network for Administration/operations, and use the IPX/SPX protocol. The plants have a token ring network, and use the TCP/IP protocol.

According to (TechTarget, 2009),

In networking and communications, a protocol is the formal specification that defines the procedures that must be followed when transmitting or receiving data. Protocols define the format, timing, sequence, and error checking used on the network.

Rationale for the adoption of existing protocols

When Huffman Trucking initially opened its doors for business, a minimal network for each separate location was sufficient at the time. The company had fewer customers and business associations in which it was doing business. A small network individually set up at each location was sufficient to handle the customer sales, manufacturing, and the material orders for many years after the start up of the company. As a result, using the same protocols at each location was not an issue for Internet and network communication.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Huffman Trucking needs to

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