Dentons says it's good to talk

Linda Tsang reports

As part of its major investment in information technology amounting to £3.2 million, City and international firm Denton Hall has just completed implementing a Banyan Vines network to link its 650 PCs in its three London offices and its Milton Keynes base, together with an email/workflow package BeyondMail.

The law firm has about 400 lawyers and 800 staff in total.

Director of services Paul Dickinson explains: "We are a business whose deliverable product is information and the movement of that information. We decided to replace our Wang-based system in 1993. The five VS Wang machines were proving to be technically obsolete and incompatible with the requirements of a sophisticated law firm and its clients."

Denton Hall realised it needed the power and efficiency of a PC network, with the choice of word processing applications and better document management, remote

access and email. "Most network operating systems (NOS) we looked at worked well at a local level but their directory services – that part of the NOS which makes the network easy to manage and grow – were immature." With offices in Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing, Brussels, Hong Kong and Moscow, something which would develop easily into a wide area network (WAN) was required.

"The Banyan network was one of the only NOSs on the market known for its ease of use over geographically disparate sites," adds Dickinson.

Denton Hall plans to network its overseas offices, bringing nearly 750 users onto its WAN, later this year .

To facilitate communication and aid document management, the firm has also invested in Banyan's messaging package BeyondMail which runs on Windows and so is easy to access and use. The messaging package uses 'rules' to filter email, so that, for example, social messages will be filed in a less urgent folder, while other messages can be filed in higher priority folders.

In addition, if the intended recipient is absent, rules will send the message to someone else to deal with. The package also has a capability to design forms such as Denton Hall's conflict form. This prevents potential conflicts from arising by alerting everyone in the firm to new pieces of work.

And as a workflow package, the software may be used by the firm to change working practices so that, for example, administrative forms can be routed automatically around the requisite departments on a need-to-see basis for approval, removing the need for multiple copies and saving time.