The Coca-Cola Co. this week confirmed that it had completed the design of a new network that will link its 289 facilities in 87 countries.

Equant NV in Amsterdam created the soft-drink company’s internetworking plan, said Claude Marais, strategic relations manager at Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. Eventually, all of the company’s site-to-site network traffic will run over Equant’s global frame-relay backbone, and the vendor would manage the network as well, Marais said. The total cost of the project is expected to be $47 million over the next five years, he added.

The decision to create a new internetwork came about in large part from Coca-Cola’s ongoing deployment of enterprise resource planning software from Munich-based SAP AG, Marais said.

According to Jim Slaby, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., SAP deployments require a consistently robust network because of “some definite latency tendencies.”

Marais said Coca-Cola had been working with several service providers but decided to move to a single outsourcer that could build, manage and guarantee quality of service on a single network. But Marais was unable to identify the current providers, and he declined to discuss details of the service-level agreement that Coca-Cola has with Equant.

“As your applications and organization grow, you outgrow your network,” he said. “We … liked [Equant’s] capability to manage holistically around the world.”

Marais said he also likes that “100 per cent of the backbone is owned and operated by Equant.” Most other carriers have several sets of alliances that collectively provide all of the optical links, he explained.

Slaby said no other backbone provider has a more extensive global infrastructure than Equant. The company’s movement toward tiered IP services, which speed network throughput by classifying and prioritizing traffic according to its urgency, was likely a factor in Coca-Cola’s decision to have Equant manage the network.

Marais said Equant is expected to create the network backbone during the next four months.

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