Skoda Germany - virtual network for the safe and cost-effective integration of dealers

As one of the oldest car manufacturers in the world, Skoda has a long tradition. In 1905, the bicycle and motorcycle manufacturer Laurin & Klement, in Mlada Boleslav near Prague, launched its first car, the Voiturette A. Only two years after that they were offering 9 different models. In 1925 the company joined with the Pilsener Skoda factories and in 1991 with the VOLKSWAGENS AG, from which the joint venture Skoda automobilova a.s developed. Skoda became, beside Volkswagen, Audi and Seat, the fourth label of the Volkswagen company. At the end of 2007, Skoda was not only in 100 markets all over the world, but was the most profitable despite the difficult western European market circumstances, with a turnover of 222,0 billion Czech crowns and a sales profit of 19,9 billion Czech crowns.

Since 1991, SkodaAuto Germany GmbH has been in Weiterstadt, which has been a 100% subsidiary of Skoda auto a.s since 1995. With approximately 250 employees, the German branch maintains a network of 1,400 dealers in Germany, who need information about delivery opportunities, spare part stock, prices etc. or to pass orders on. To involve all the dealers cost-effectively, Skoda decided to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs are the best solution for safely networking many locations as it uses coded connections for the protection of sensitive company data and applications.

Our existing Virtual Private Network was the right choice at the beginning, but with its proprietary infrastructure it was too old and didn't meet our increased security requirements. Security should always be central to us but also availability is important.
Oliver Gottwald, Director of Information Systems of SkodaAuto Germany in Weiterstadt

Gottwald continues by saying that quality, service, hotline, cost-efficiency and, not least, flexibility were amongst the reasons for choosing between all the large DSL providers. An important requirement was that the dealers could use the network again as soon as possible in case of a system failure. After thorough investigation, the VPN solution of the Frankfurt Claranet GmbH was chosen, the German branch of the European Managed Services Provider.

Oliver Gottwald adds:
What distinguished Claranet from all the other suppliers, was the extraordinary flexibility. We wanted a modern, future-proof solution, but also wanted to use "as far as possible" the equipment we still had. That means for example that the dealers can use their routers by just updating the configuration. The IT expert continues by saying that Claranet was not the lowest-priced solution, but they indicated the best cost-performance ratio amongst the different providers.

In co-operation with SkodaAuto Germany, Claranet GmbH developed a concept to be able to make software updates. The connection to the international backbone network of Claranet is made by ADSL connections, which enables download speeds of between 1000 and 16000 kbit/sec. The upload speed is between 384 and 576 kbit/sec. With approximately 40 servers, a centrally controlled infrastructure became the service Oriented Architecture (SOA) as well as a Web-based portal for dealers was created. For new dealers and as back-up Skoda owns a pool of pre-configured routers.

With a standard IPSec VPN, confidential communication is done by tunnelling and encoding the transmitted data. Tunnelling is a technology where data is packed up and passed on with the security of IPsec. Seen from the security aspect it is one of the best solutions at present. The IPSec VPN enables, that all included locations are equipped with public IP addresses, the not public IP addresses are routed in encoded form only in the location LANs by IPSec within the enterprise VPNs. At respective network access points a hardware IP gateway is used which determines a totally secure enterprise network.

Only authorised users have access to the sensitive enterprise data. According to the requirements of the enterprise a dedicated Firewall and IP filter can be created at each location. The IPSec VPN is characterised among other things by its high flexibility and permits the safe networking of locations, partners as well as of mobile or home working employees.

As Oliver Gottwald reports, SkodaAuto gradually introduced the new VPN solution.

First we started some pilot installations for just a few dealers. The positive experiences and the satisfaction of these first dealers contributed to the fast acceptance by the remaining dealers. The use of already available network components was an important aspect for the dealers, which helped to avoid unnecessary costs for buying new equipment.

Due to the positive experiences from the test installations, the satisfaction of the dealers, the high security and reliability and, not least the flexibility and cost-efficiency of the Claranet solution, the different car brands all renewed their dealer network with Claranet.

About Claranet
Claranet is a European Managed Services Provider for business clients. As Claranet is a european Managed Service Provider for business customers. As an experienced technical partner, Claranet offers effective and reliable Managed Services for more than 36,000 business customers in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and the USA. Claranet established as an innovative and solid growing company. The comprehensive offering of Managed Services and infrastructure services includes Access-, Hosting-, Network-, Application- and Storage services.

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Claranet GmbH
Tarkan Akman
Marketing Director
Hanauer Landstraße 196
60314 Frankfurt/Main
Tel.: 069/408018-200
Fax: 069/408018-229
Email: presse@de.clara.net
URL: www.claranet.co.uk

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HFN Kommunikation GmbH
Andrea Fischedick / Jochen Rössner
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60314 Frankfurt/Main
Tel. +49 (0)69 923186-0
Fax +49 (0)69 923186-22
Email: afischedick@hfn.de / jroessner@hfn.de
URL: www.hfn.de

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