Novell Supports Wireless Solution for the Nation's Fastest-Growing Natural Gas Utility
Novell, Inc., a leading provider of eBusiness solutions and Net services software, today announced that Southwest Gas Corporation, the fastest-growing natural gas utility in the United States, has deployed an innovative wireless solution using Novell's Net services software.
Novell, Inc., a leading provider of eBusiness solutions and Net services software, today announced that Southwest Gas Corporation, the fastest-growing natural gas utility in the United States, has deployed an innovative wireless solution using Novell's Net services software. The solution, which wirelessly distributes and updates maps detailing thousands of miles of natural gas lines, has allowed Southwest Gas to meet a rapidly increasing demand for its services while keeping costs down and without adding substantial headcount. For the company's pioneering solution, Southwest Gas was recently recognized as one of CIO Magazine's "CIO 100," which honored the outstanding achievements of 100 industry-leading organizations for innovative use of information technology.
"Southwest Gas has seen phenomenal growth over the past several years, adding more than 65,000 new customers last year alone. Yet our goal has remained to support that growth through strategic use of information technology instead of adding substantial headcount - keeping our costs down and increasing our shareholder value," said Tony Fortwengler, director of IS for Southwest Gas, the Las Vegas-based utility which supplies natural gas to nearly 1.4 million households and businesses in Arizona, California and Nevada.
"So far we've been very successful; and Novell has been a key partner in sustaining that goal by providing a secure, reliable backbone for our network," Fortwengler said. "Building on the speed and stability of NetWare's file services and identity management and authentication via eDirectory, Southwest Gas has been able to create a network infrastructure that has dramatically improved employee productivity and lowered the total man-hours required to accomplish ongoing tasks. In fact, we estimate that over the past six years our strategic IT deployments have saved us the addition of 300 to 400 employees."
How the Solution Works
Key to success of Southwest Gas is the company's service and construction technicians who handle the day-to-day activities of gas line repairs, meter monitoring, gas orders and service requests. For years these technicians have relied upon hard-copy maps and microfiche to identify and determine locations of transmission and distribution pipes. Each crew truck would carry pounds of maps and manuals, some up to six months old. Updates were costly, time consuming and too infrequent.
Today Southwest Gas uses a wireless LAN to keep gas line maps constantly up to date. Each day engineering updates to the maps are transferred from a database to Novell® NetWare® servers in 35 field offices. At night these updates are transferred wirelessly from the NetWare servers to laptops mounted in each service vehicle automated by Novell ZENworks® for Desktops. The laptops receive their map and manual updates unattended while parked in the company lot overnight and do not need to be removed from the vehicles. The following day, by authenticating via Novell eDirectory, the service technicians are granted access to updated mapping information.
"For our customers, Southwest Gas's electronic mapping system translates into a number of benefits," Fortwengler added. "First, it promotes improved safety through more accurate response to pipeline problems and more precise locations for underground pipes. Second, it means improved customer satisfaction by minimizing repeat visits for pipe location and service. Finally, it enables improved responsiveness to urgent or immediate requests through instant availability of information to the field technician."
"The award-winning wireless solution deployed by Southwest Gas is prime example of the ability of Novell's Net services software to solve real-world business challenges that ultimately lower costs and improve the bottom line," said Paul Smart, vice president and general manager of Novell's Net Directory business. "By making NetWare and eDirectory their network platform, Southwest Gas has been able to improve the effectiveness of their technicians and ultimately improve the level of service they offer their customers."
"Organizations requiring low-cost, standards-based messaging for up to millions of users need NIMS 3.0," said Dave Stevenson, vice president of Novell's Collaboration Services group. "NIMS delivers e-mail and calendaring at a minimal cost so organizations can focus resources on serving their customers. For example, universities with tens of thousands of students who rotate in and out every year need flexibility and low cost. Companies with thousands of workers without desks need a way to deliver low-cost, scalable and reliable calendaring and messaging over the Web. NIMS 3.0 is the answer for these organizations."
Novell, Inc. (NASDAQ: NOVL), is a leader in eBusiness solutions and Net services software designed to secure and power the networked world. Novell and its subsidiary, Cambridge Technology Partners, help organizations solve complex business challenges, simplify their systems and processes, and capture new opportunities with one Net solutions. Novell provides worldwide channel, consulting, education and developer programs to support its offerings.
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