Menswear retailer John Craig has rolled out a new Metacom communications platform to 85 stores in South Africa in just three weeks, providing increased reliability at lower cost.

“Our parent company’s business strategy required us to consolidate on a single platform,” says Deon van der Wath, Director: Risk Management for John Craig. “When Metacom showed me a three-week rollout plan I thought it was over-optimistic to say the least, but they completed the rollout exactly to the timeline and within budget. All the promises were kept. That’s very rare.”

Metacom’s communications infrastructure combines a managed private network with a range of routers and other hardware devices designed to ensure seamless uptime, says Metacom MD, Réan van Niekerk. “ADSL is an excellent technology but it’s not a guaranteed service, so all our devices are designed to fail over to cellular networks when necessary. Each one contains dual SIM cards so there’s a second failover if one network goes down.”

“Having the dual failover will definitely increase our uptime,” says Van der Wath. “The Telkom network is not always reliable ? copper cables get stolen, for example ? and we need a robust network. Without data we can’t run our business; it’s as simple as that.”

John Craig has just opened its first store in Namibia, with several more planned, and Van der Wath says Metacom is the service provider there as well. “They have staff based in Namibia and can offer local support, which is far more cost effective for us than trying to do it from Johannesburg.”

Van der Wath and his staff also have Web access to a management console, which allows them to monitor every branch and its connectivity in real-time ? although the actual management of the network is done by Metacom.

“In the past five years, our network throughout Africa has grown to the point where we are now very confident in our ability to roll out and support secure, reliable networks on very short timescales,” says Van Niekerk. “We now have many thousands of devices in the field, all actively monitored and managed from our international operations centre. There’s no other service provider that can offer this kind of reliability at such low cost.”