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Musician's Friend gets Cerius about infrastructure

Musician's Friend, with six showrooms and plans for three more, is a direct-mail musical equipment company and has grown 35% annually for the past three years. The company had outgrown its network infrastructure and was having trouble supporting its remote locations. Both its business operations and communications systems were inadequate.

It was essential for us to implement a solution that was open standards-based, LDAP-compliant, to simplify administration and provide centralized configuration," said D.J. Buell, network administrator for Musician's Friend.The company turned to Cerius Technology Group, which brought in a Hewlett-Packard 9000 server that fits the needs and budget of Musician's Friend and exceeded its expectations, according to Jim Walker, IS manager with the music equipment company. The system, including software from Netscape, was implemented within three months.

"We bought the system in June and had our help desk application up and running within two weeks, " said Walker. "E-mail services were running about six weeks later. Then, a couple of weeks later, we rolled out the intranet system across the entire company.

To meet its communication goals, Musician's Friend networked all of its showrooms and remote call centers and distribution centers into the HP server on a frame relay WAN.

"Now the entire enterprise has access to the same files as the central office regardless of the client. In addition, the implementation of the extranet will permit key vendors to exchange orders and delivery schedules electronically," said Buell.

The Netscape software has improved productivity, according to Walker, "because our users can simultaneously access and share information, e-mail and send files to remote locations and fax on demand. In fact, it has allowed us to implement several workflow solutions and processes."

At any given time, Musician's Friend has 350 to 400 users on the system. It averages 14 users at each of its showrooms, plus 150 at headquarters, about 50 in each of its two call centers and between 20 and 30 at its various warehouses."It has really improved our ability to communicate with each other," Walker said, "Since we have so many remote sites with a significant number of people at each site, it allows us to stay in touch and helps all of our employees to feel part of the Musician's Friend team."

As for the future, the company plans to focus more on its intranet, create individual Web pages for each department and expand the help desk in its technical support department.

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