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Case Study --- FleetPride

communication news   May, 2008

Firm turbocharges Web meetings
Conferencing server and Web interface allow numerous departmental and training sessions.

by George Nibler

FleetPride, a large distributor of parts and services for the trucking industry, located in The Woodlands, Texas, needed a communications solution for its network of more than 160 offices. The company required an internal network solution, particularly for training purposes, and it also needed external Web access for communications with its national accounts and wholesale sales divisions that include outside customers and vendors. Security was a top concern and FleetPride network security officer Ken Grimes was sensitive about opening up the company's internal network to outside communications.


FleetPride compared several different Web conferencing solutions, including hosted and pay-per-use services. According to Grimes, most options were expensive and included many features that were not going to be useful. Pay-per-use solutions were excessively expensive, he says. After evaluating the available options, he decided to use RHUB Communications' TurboMeeting Web conferencing servers - based on cost, ease of use and the feature set.

Businesses of all sizes are embracing Web conferencing. With its increased capabilities for interactive sharing and recording of information, Web conferencing is becoming a viable alternative to face-to-face meetings. While face-to-face meetings allow attendees to take in the subtleties (and distractions) of body language and tone, Web conferencing offers the ability to save and review meeting content, instant sharing of documents and data, and interactive presentations. Web conferencing also eliminates the time and expense of business travel required for face-to-face meetings, allowing widely separated employees to collaborate on short notice.

For FleetPride, TurboMeeting was configured as an on-premise server, whereby the firm purchased and installed the units in its facilities, giving it complete ownership, control and security, and eliminating monthly fees. This also means that FleetPride must maintain and troubleshoot the system, but Grimes says it was easy to install and operate, and does not require extensive IT support.

"We were looking for a Web conferencing solution that would allow our staff to support and train over 2,000 users - without breaking the bank or overwhelming our network with unnecessary features we would never use," says Grimes. "TurboMeeting is an server that has a very clean and easy interface for setting up, scheduling and conducting webcasts."


FleetPride uses two units - a TurboMeeting 500 for internal network use, for large meetings with many attendees, and a TurboMeeting 200 unit for more limited external use. The company is using TurboMeeting for a broad range of communications: IT help desk support, corporate training, sales training, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll and IT user training of new programs and policies.

The servers are small, about 9" x 6" x 1.4", with installation as simple as plugging in network and power cables, and following a simple configuration process. According to Grimes, steps for configuring the unit include:

  • install TurboMeeting unit on the internal network in the DMZ of the firewall;
  • TurboMeeting negotiates with the DHCP server to get an internal IP address and registers as "myonlinemeeting";
  • the administrator accesses TurboMeeting using a Web browser, as myonlinemeeting, and assigns a static IP address to the unit;
  • firewall ports are mapped to the unit;
  • a domain name is set up and mapped to the static IP address; and
  • user information is input for those who will be hosting meetings.

The TurboMeeting 200 Web-access installation is the same as the internal network installation, with the difference being opening a port on the firewall, allowing the system to operate over the Web. It essentially has a small window open through the firewall, allowing only specific inside users to use Web access with outside participants.


FleetPride's complete installation for the initial TurboMeeting 500 unit on the internal network took about two hours, Grimes says, including adding all users, printing training documents and initial testing. The TurboMeeting 200 installation on the Web took about three days, primarily for management approval of opening FleetPride's firewall, and determining who needed both internal and external access. There were some image resolution issues with some wide screen and dual monitor setups, but those have been resolved in the latest product update.

"Last November and December, we completed physical inventory training at all of our service centers, over 160 locations," Grimes offers. "This included training on the actual PC systems our users work with. We broke the training sessions into groups of 20 locations at a time, with two webcasts per day. TurboMeeting worked very well, and we completed the entire organization's training in six days."

Every organization has its own Web conferencing requirements, and TurboMeeting has a variety of options and features that allow users to select those they need. FleetPride uses "seminar mode" as its primary training format. Interactive mode is used primarily by sales training personnel and IT support for the iSeries IBM mainframe.

One useful option for FleetPride is the "view only" mode, which allows the moderator to continue the meeting and answer questions without stopping the webcast to allow users to join in. This can be useful for users with low-end PCs or handhelds with limited RAM, because no download is required, or for users with firewalls blocking outbound traffic, or with locked-down computers.

As FleetPride has become familiar with the product, staff is finding new applications. In one example, local area managers are using TurboMeeting to perform one-on-one training with new employees, and to provide specific training to address individual or isolated issues.

"We had been using pay-per-minute Web conferencing services, and we estimated that our savings with TurboMeeting would pay for itself within a year," explains Grimes. "In fact, our sales force has already saved enough in travel expenses in only a few months to pay for the TurboMeeting 500 unit, and we expect the units to save us even more, as we are identifying new uses."

George Nibler is a technology writer specializing in the evaluation and interpretation of emerging technologies and their applications.